Lemon Verbena Custards

Thursday 1 August 2013

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One of the herbs I grow in my garden is Lemon Verbena.  I just adore it.   I love it so much that I cannot resist brushing my fingers up and down it's stems whenever I walk past it.  The smell is heavenly . . . and quite intoxicating . . . well, at least it is to me.

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It lends itself beautifully to making herbal teas . . . When I worked down South, I often brewed pots of Lemon Verbena Tea for my boss on summer afternoons.  It also makes lovely iced tea, or sweet tea . . .

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It also lends itself to making beautifully delicious simple desserts . . . such as sorbets and puddings . . . like these delicious Lemon Verbena Custards here today . . .

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Steeping the leaves in a mixture of cream, along with some finely grated lemon zest imparts a wonderful flavour to the cream . . . lemony and almost woodsy . . . quite delightful.

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Delicious in their own right, but one can't help but partner them with something fruity . . . such as the last of the summer's strawberries, simply mashed with the fingers along with just a touch of caster sugar . . .

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A spot of ordinary jam would go well also.  It's up to you.  The custard is soft and unctuously rich . . . oh so simple to make and ready in half an hour or so . . .

Of course you could just have it plain.  That is good also . . .

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*Lemon Verbena Custards*
Makes 6  

The perfect summer pudding and a great way to use some of the Lemon Verbena in the garden.  It imparts a beautiful herbed lemon flavour to these delicious baked custards! 

several large handfuls of lemon verbena leaves (lots!)
500ml of single cream (2 1/4 cups)
the finely grated zest of one lemon
6 medium egg yolks (you can freeze the whites to make meringues at another time)
50g of caster sugar plus more to taste (1/4 cup)
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*F/ gas mark 3.   Have ready a roasting tin and 6 medium sized ramekins.  Boil the kettle.

Place the cream into a large saucepan along with the lemon verbena and the lemon zest.  Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for 15 to 20 minutes.  Strain out the solids at the end of that time.  Whisk together the egg yolks.  Strain some of the cream mixture into them, whisking constantly to temper the eggs.  Whisk in a bit more and then whisk the tempered mixture back into the cream.    Whisk in the sugar and a pinch of salt.  Taste and add more sugar if needed.  

Place the ramekins into the roasting tin.   Divide the cream/egg mixture evenly between them.   Place on the middle shelf of the heated oven.  Add boiling water carefully to the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until the custards are set with a gentle wobble in the middle.

Serve warm with some summer fruits or jam.

Note:  You can substitute the verbena with half a scraped vanilla pod if you wish.  Or for a spicy twist you can infuse the cream with 3-4 bruised cardamom pods, a cinnamon stick, half a fresh nutmeg grated and/or 20 to 3 whole cloves.

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The leftover berries were lovely with some gently warmed brioche buns . . . such a lovely breakfast and so very continental too . . . 


  1. Yum. I am upset about my egg allergy now! Looks lovely.

  2. Oh darn Suze, I am wondering what you could use instead. Maybe one of my readers could come up with a suitable substitute! xx

  3. Simply lovely, we have lemon verbena growing in the garden - can't wait to try these lovely custards :))
    Mary x

  4. I've often wondered if it is possible to use lemon verbena in a "proper" recipe. I'll give it a go. I like your recipes.


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