Custards and such

April 14, 2003

Custards and such

I have always enjoyed a good simple custard. I really enjoy creme brulée as well. I have recipes that I make often for pumpkin custard, chocolate pot de creme, and even a cardamom custard that is great following an indian dinner. While I am truly a chocoholic at heart, I find that custard-type desserts are hard for me to turn away from. I hunt them down and try to find ones that are keepers. They satisfy me in a whole different comforting sort of way.

I have been making custard for 10 years or so now. I like mine served slightly warm, and find that I can’t help myself but to eat one steaming hot out of the oven, because I just can’t wait! Most recipes tell you to chill the custard after cooking and to serve it cold. I find it much more appealing and mentally soothing to eat it warmed.

I believe that any custard can be turned into a creme brulée by sprinkling it with granulated sugar, and then using a kitchen torch to carmelize to sugared top. While the trend is to serve brulées in a shallow dish, I much prefer a regular custard cup or ramekin, so as to not be overwhelmed by the brulée, and to have enough custard below to really get that creamy “mouthfeel”.

Custards are wonderful desserts or even snacks for anyone (especially kids who don’t eat much). They have protein and dairy, and are sweet enough that the kids really like them. They are smooth enough to go down easy, and heathy enough that I don’t mind giving seconds (or eating seconds myself!). They are generally easy enough to make anytime. So do it, and enjoy.

note: Any one of these can be made into creme bruleé by sprinkling granulated sugar on the top (after the custard has been chilled) and carmelizing with a kitchen torch.

This is easy and good. Best served slightly warmed. The recipe is from The Joy of Cooking and is wonderful any time.

3 eggs, beaten well
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Heat the milk until it is quite hot, but not boiling.
2. Beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg.
3. While whisking, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture.
4. Pour the mixture into 8 custard cups, and put these into a baking pan.
5. Pour water into the pan so that it comes about halfway up the sides of the custard cups.
6. Bake for 1 hour at 325æ or until set ( a knife comes out clean). Take out of the oven and let cool.
Makes 8 servings.

Pumpkin Custard
This is particularly good in the fall. It is part of a recipe (only slightly altered) for a pumpkin bread pudding from Cold Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase. This is 1/2 the original recipe and makes enough for 6-8 custard cups.

3 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin purée (1/2 can)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups milk, scalded

1. In a bowl, whisk together everything but the milk.
2. Slowly pour in the hot milk, while whisking.
3. Pour the mixture into 8 custard cups, and put these into a baking pan.
4. Pour water into the pan so that it comes about halfway up the sides of the custard cups.
5. Bake for 1 hour at 325æ or until set ( a knife comes out clean). Take out of the oven and let cool.
Makes 6 – 8 servings.

Chocolate Pot de Creme
This dessert is so good and so easy…my favorite combination! Always a hit for company, and it has to be made ahead, so it leaves you free before company comes.

6 oz. chocolate chips
1 Tbsp instant coffee ( I use decaf. )
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk (use 2% or whole milk- if you only have 1% or skim- mix heavily with cream)

1. Put the chocolate chips, eggs and coffee into a blender and blend briefly.
2. Scald the milk in a small saucepan.
3.Slowly pour the scalding milk into the blender, as it is going, and mix for 2 minutes.
4. Pour the mixture into custard cups or ramekins.
5. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
Makes about 6 servings.

Cardamom -Almond Custard
This dessert has a silky texture and intense flavors. I got it from the epicurious website (from Bon Appétit
February 1999) and changed it a little. Wonderful after an indian dinner.

2 cups half and half (or mix of cream and milk)
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 large egg yolks
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325°F.
Heat milk/ cream in the microwave until very hot.
Remove from microwave and add sugar, honey, almond extract, and cardamom.
Whisk eggs and yolks in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in half and half mixture.
Place six 3/4-cup custard cups or ramekins in roasting pan. Divide custard mixture among custard cups. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cups.
Bake custards until set around edges and center moves only slightly when cups are gently shaken, about 1 hour. Remove custards from water. Cool slightly. Best served warm.
Serves 6

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