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Coconut Custard with Rhubarb-Cherry Sauce

We wanted something simple, comforting and a little sweet for Mother’s Day this year…simple enough that someone else can make this for the mothers! Rhubarb is in prime shape at the markets right now and is such a beautiful, ruby-red taste of spring. Last week’s farmer’s market in Santa Barbara had both sweet and sour cherries. I bought the sour cherries, which are rare in these parts, and added further color and piquancy to the rhubarb sauce. The dessert can be made ahead and chilled or served a little warm.

Normally custard is made with a combination of milk and cream. Try this dairy-free version with coconut milk. The canned coconut milk is very rich and creamy. I like Arroy-D or Savoy brand, which I purchase at our local Asian market. Not all coconut milks are the same. You wouldn’t want a low-fat milk for this recipe. These brands are additive free and super tasty.

Use two egg yolks for a very soft custard, a little runny in the middle. Add a third egg yolk if you like a firmer set. Can’t go wrong either way. Happy Mother’s Day!

Coconut Custard with Rhubarb-Cherry Sauce

1 14-oz. can coconut milk (I use Arroy-D brand)

2-3 large egg yolks (see note above)

1 large egg

1/3 c. maple sugar

Dash salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

A few fresh cherries with stem for serving

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter 8 2-oz. ceramic custard cups. Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Heat the coconut milk in a saucepan until it’s scalded- bubbly around the edges but not boiling. Remove from heat.

Whisk together the yolks and eggs. Stir in the sugar, salt and vanilla, then slowly, very slowly, whisk in the hot coconut milk until all is blended. Pour through a fine sieve into a large glass measuring cup or bowl with a pouring spout.

Place the prepared dish or cups in a roasting pan, so they’ll fit snugly together. Pour in the custard mixture, then place pan in the oven. Pull oven rack out slightly, then carefully pour the hot water into the pan around the cups, to a depth of about 1-inch. Bake, uncovered, 20-25 minutes. The center will still be wobbly and barely set (especially if using 2 yolks). Remove from oven and let stand until cooled. The custard may be served warm or refrigerated. It will set more fully when cold. Top with rhubarb sauce and a cherry before serving.

Rhubarb-Cherry Sauce

1 lb. fresh rhubarb, sliced lengthwise, then diced (3-1/2 c.)

½ c. fresh pitted cherries, sour or sweet

½ c. unbleached sugar

¼ c. water

Dash of salt

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan; stir to mix. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, on low heat for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, just until rhubarb is soft. Don’t overcook – it’s better with a little texture. Serve immediately or refrigerate for several days.

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