A simple pudding / pastry cream flavored with box elder syrup caramel.
Keyword: Box Elder, Maple
½cupplus 2 tablespoons box elder syrup
2cupshalf and half
2large egg yolkssave the whites for another purpose
In a 2 qt saucepot, heat the butter until browned and nutty smelling (be careful not to burn it). Carefully add the whiskey to the pot (it will sputter and sizzle) then add the box elder syrup and salt.
Cook the syrup on high for a few minutes until thick, foamy, and you can almost see the bottom of the pan for a split second if you draw a spoon through the bottom. It should resemble thick caramel.
Add the half and half to the pot (reserving a splash to hydrate the cornstarch) return the pan to the heat and cook on medium, whisking occasionally, until the caramel is melted and incorporated into the half and half. Remove the pot from the heat to cool (leaving it in the snow for a couple minutes works well if it’s sap season).
Meanwhile, gently whisk the egg yolks with the cornstarch and the splash of half in a 1-2 qt size metal mixing bowl until and even paste forms.
When the half and half mixture has cooled to the temperature of a warm bath, ladle 1/3 of it into the egg-cornstarch mix, then whisk until dissolved, minding the bottom and sides of the bowl where the eggs like to stick.
Pour the egg mixture back into the pot with the half and half, then return to the stove and cook on medium heat until it just starts to thicken, whisking constantly (watch it carefully, it should seize at about 165-170 F).
When the mixture visibly thickens, take it off the heat and whisk it well for a minute or two, then pour into a container, press cling film onto the surface of the pudding, and refrigerate until needed.
After the pudding has chilled, taste it and judge the consistency. If you'd like it a little more loose, thin it by whisking with a splash of milk or water in a pinch.
To serve, spoon or pipe the custard into ramekins or other small dishes, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top. Fill the top with whipped cream flavored with a dash of box elder syrup, and top with a dusting of crushed cookies. Pictured are amaretti made from hickory nuts.