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Culinary wizardry: Cookbook offers look into real foods in the Harry Potter series

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 8 2011 3:00 p.m. MST

Cook's note: For a no-fuss version of this dessert, try instant vanilla pudding and good-quality canned whipped cream (NOT Cool Whip). Or, for a more authentic flavor but easier prep, pick up a tin of Bird's powdered custard from any of our local British markets or from specialty foods stores.

2 cups custard (recipe follows)

Whipped cream (recipe follows)

2 cups any flavor Jell-O, prepared in advance

Chopped toasted nuts, such as hazelnuts or almonds

2 cups chopped fresh fruit, such as peaches or berries

1 pint vanilla ice cream

Prepare the custard, whipped cream and Jell-O in advance; chop and toast the nuts ahead as well.

Wash and, if necessary, peel and chop the fruit you are using. Set out six tall sundae glasses.

Divide 1/2 pint of the ice cream into the bottom of the six glasses. Then evenly divide 1 cup of the fruit into the glasses. Then evenly divide 1 cup of the Jell-O over the fruit and 1 cup of the custard over the Jell-O. Repeat the layering once with the remaining ice cream, fruit, Jell-O and custard.

Top with the whipped cream, toasted nuts and chocolate syrup. Serves 6.

Custard:

1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream, or 11/2 cups whole milk

3 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine 2 tablespoons of the sugar with the cornstarch and salt in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the milk and cream and stir until the cornstarch dissolves. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.

Cook the milk mixture over medium-high heat until the mixture is just starting to bubble and thicken. Reduce the heat to low. Temper the yolks by slowly pouring 1/2 cup of the hot mixture into the yolks while whisking constantly. Pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan, stirring constantly.

Turn the heat back up to medium-high. Cook, stirring constantly but gently, until the mixture is thick. Once the mixture starts to thicken, it must be handled gently or the cornstarch will lose its thickening power. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Strain the custard through a sieve into another bowl. (You may need to push it through the sieve with a rubber spatula; this gets rid of lumps.) Cover the custard with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming, and chill until it is set.

Whipped Cream:

1 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the heavy cream, confectioner's sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl and whip until firm peaks form and stay in place when you lift up the beater and turn the bowl upside down.

— "The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook," by Dinah Bucholz

Creamy Onion Soup

In "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," Harry arrives at the Weasleys' ramshackle home in the middle of the night with Albus Dumbledore, who looks forward to giving Mrs. Weasley an opportunity "to deplore how thin you are." By way of remedying this, she stirs together a thick, hot onion soup for Harry. This soup, very British, is much different from the dark, brothy "French" version usually eaten in America. It's good with crusty bread or, even more authentic, with Irish soda bread.

1/4 stick (2 tablespoons) butter

2 large onions, cut lengthwise and then sliced 1/8-inch thick