Cherry Ripple Coconut Custard (and Popsicles)

If you’re having the sort of day that can only be fixed by an iced lolly, or a cosseting bowl of custard, skip straight to the recipe at the bottom. The fact that it’s dairy free/ paleo friendly/ refined sugar free/ toddler endorsed is just a bonus. What you may need is to curl up in a corner with a saucepan full of wavering warm coconut anglaise and stay there until the spoon comes up empty. (No judgement). If you need an iced lolly, then you’re going to have to wait a few hours for the freezer to do its thing. Sorry.

If you have some time for context, ready on.

Rippled custard hollers holidays to me. It yodels ‘escape’ largely because cherry, or berry ripple ice cream is my default order at any parlour worth it’s salt. And last week I was really hankering for a holiday. The Hungry One was dragging a suitcase across half of South East Asia (yes, yes, travel for work is not the same as a holiday, I appreciate that) meanwhile I was limping towards the end of a week with Will. We may have even spent a good spell one afternoon playing a fun game called ‘Wake up Mummy!’ where I  pretend to sleep for sometimes up to 40 seconds and then he would jump out and shout, (somewhat predictably) ‘Wake up Mummy!’, before we’d start all over again.

In those 40 seconds, with one ear still primed for potential toddler mischief I would take the remaining part of my brain elsewhere. Usually someplace warm. I went back to Cape Town and sipped Campari overlooking Camp’s Bay. I gadded off to Dubrovnik and wafted around in azure water and zipped into the old town on a vintage timber sportscraft. I went to Cyprus and appreciated one of the 320 days of sunshine that can be found each year at Capo Bay. It was while I was briefly back in Cyprus that I remembered a fruits of the forest and cream ice cream combination that made my heart sing.

And suddenly, I knew what I had to do.

This custard was a necessary boost for personal morale, while also performing noble double duty also part of my nifty ploy to ‘get some protein into the toddler’. Will toyed with me for a brief moment last week and consented to consume a few bite sized morsels of chicken schnitzel (it seems he does have some of his father’s Austrian heritage in him). Well, once. Once he ate it. He’s now gone off it, as well as eggs and the only fish he will entertain are prawns. This has to be a phase. Please tell me this is a phase.

So we’ve resorted to smuggling eggs into unexpected places again. Sometimes I muddle an egg with some white miso and use it as a sauce for soba noodles (this he’ll eat).  And other times I’ll make a very eggy custard and gild it with berries or cherries.

But one thing is for sure – ice creams or popsicles are good for morale- particularly when you’re two and a half and the world is a befuddling place.

What follows is a very simple custard which leans on two eggs and one yolk as well as the thickening properties of arrowroot powder for body. You could of course use cow milk, or almond milk as the base, but I love the flavour combination of cherries and coconut.  It works as shared treats for Will’s dairy-free friends, but also makes a lovely accompanying sauce for a rich chocolate torte, or simple almond cake.

The trick to making custard, particularly when there are additional eggs hitching a ride is patience. Be sure to stir it meditatively over a low heat and expect it to take at least ten minutes to thicken. Do not get impatient and blast the heat, unless you feel like coconut scrambled eggs. Alternatively, invest as much money as you would on a flight from Sydney to Europe on a thermomix and cook it for 7 minutes, at temperature 90 C and stirring speed 4.

In that time of stirring, I chose to reflect on all that can go pear shaped with the travel I was craving. I sent love out into the universe to my best friend, who is currently delayed in San Francisco airport for 12 hours en route to Toronto for a year, with 18mth old twins, a  four year old and her life in bags at her ankles. I thought of The Hungry One, in transit for 27 hours from Bangalore on his way home to us. I remembered the three hours of being stuck on the tarmac while 11 weeks pregnant with Will in Heathrow snow and begging the stewardesses for anything to eat – even stale bread – anything to quell the rising tide of all-day-bile that was rising inside.

And then I looked around my cosy house, patted my son on the head and sat down in a patch of sun by the back door and we shared a bowl of custard. Once again, life retreated to the small pleasures of taking joy where ever you find it.

Cherry Ripple Coconut Custard (and Popsicles)

Makes 4 popsicles, or 4 servings of custard

Shopping/foraging

2 eggs
1 egg yolk
250 ml/ 1 cup coconut milk (can also substitute for cow milk/ almond milk etc)
3 tbsp honey/rice malt syrup
1 tbsp arrowroot
1/2 cup/ 60 g pitted cherries

Here’s how we roll

1) Whisky together the eggs, egg yolk, sweetener and arrowroot until smooth.

2) Heat the milk in a saucepan until warm, but not scalding (if you can’t leave your finger in the pot for three seconds, allow it to cool a little)

3) Add a quarter of the milk mixture to the egg mix and whisk to combine, then return it all to the saucepan.

4) Cook over a low heat, stirring constantly for 10 minutes until the mixture has thickened to coat the back of a spoon and a swipe with your finger leaves a defined stripe.

5) Add the cherries to the custard and gently ripple through.

6) Serve as is with some cake, allow to cool and eat with a spoon when morale is low, or transfer to popsicle molds and freeze for 6 hours, until firm.