What to say about custard? Not even sure where to start. I barely need to explain why enrobing your dessert of choice in a lush, silken pool of eggy, vanilla-y, creamy glory is relevant to the interests of those that follow this blog, but suffice it to say that making the [minimal] effort to whip up a custard is most definitely worthwhile. This particular incarnation is essentially crème Anglaise (that’s basically French for ‘English cream’ but let’s not call it that), although I put half cream and half milk rather than all-milk as per tradition, because it makes it a bit thicker, and, well…creamier. That is what passes for a grand revelation around here. You may also wish to spike your custard with various sorts of booze eg. rum, whisky, brandy, which I think is an admirable concept. I am uncomfortably familiar with custard powder from my days as a chef in a rest home (they eat that stuff by the gallon, no lie) but here comes another ground-breaking revelation: when you make it from scratch it does in fact taste vastly better.
This recipe is for an arbitrary number of egg yolks, but you can scale it up or down based on how many you want to use. It is a good way to use up leftover yolks from baking things with egg whites only, like friands.
- 3 Egg yolks
- 30g / 2 tsp Sugar (that’s 10g per yolk)
- 150ml Cream (that’s 50ml per yolk)
- 150ml Milk (and again, 50ml per yolk)
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract OR 1 vanilla pod
- Pour your cream and milk into a saucepan, and add the vanilla. If you are using a pod, split it down its length, scrape out the seeds, and then chuck the empty pod into the liquid as well. Get it heating.
- Place your egg yolks in a bowl that you will be able to freely move a whisk around in. Add your sugar and whisk it into the yolks straight away.
- Once the liquid has just begun to boil, take it off the heat, fishing out the vanilla pod if necessary.
- With your whisk in hand, add a little splash of liquid into the yolks, with the emphasis being on ‘little‘. This is called ‘tempering’, and it stops the yolks from instantly cooking, which they would do if you poured all the boiling liquid on at once. Whisk the liquid in as you pour it.
- Keeping adding liquid slowly, whisking the mixture constantly.
- Once all the liquid and yolks are combined, return the mixture to the saucepan.
- At this point, it is handy to fill up your sink with some cold water: just enough so that you could potentially put the saucepan into the sink and have water come up around the sides. This is a precaution for new players who may run a risk of splitting their custard. Don’t worry though! You can do it.
- Grab yourself a wooden spoon, and gently stir the mixture while cooking it over a low-to-medium heat. The custard will gradually thicken until it clings to the back of your spoon slightly, and you can run a finger over the back of said spoon and see a track where the coating was. To get scientific about it, the egg yolks will curdle if they get hotter than 80°C, so if you have a thermometer you can keep any eye on it.
- If you think you’ve gotten your custard too hot, calmly place your pot in the sink of cold water and whisk it quickly to cool it down rapidly. This might save it from curdling if such a happening should befall you.
- Pass the custard through a sieve to make sure it is smooth and velvety.
You can serve the custard warm or cold, and add some alcohol to it at this point if that’s how you’re playing it.