Custard

A while back I made custard. I read recipes in my newsfeed and I am not sure where this one originated. The writer talked about adding salt to prevent chewy custard and insure creamy. I’m not sure what chewy custard is like. But what struck me most was that the ratio of cream to eggs is what I have always used to make quiche that Hubby raves about. Taking that into account I was inspired to make custard.

  • 2 cups half-and-half or cow’s milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground nutmeg

Basically it is milk and eggs and sugar. For quiche omit sugar and add vegetables and meat, and cheese if desired. No need for a crust actually. Preheat the oven with a cookie sheet pan to 350 degrees F.

Beat eggs slightly with the salt then whisk in the milk, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Pour into four custard cups/Pyrex/ramekins. Sprinkle with generous amounts of freshly grated nutmeg. Bake in the oven on the cookie sheet pan for 30-35 minutes. It may be slightly wobbly but that’s okay. No need for a bain marie. I was thinking I don’t bake custard pies in a bain marie so let’s see about custard. We ate the custard before I remembered to take a photo.

Crème Caramel

The above picture is the second batch of custard made. This recipe is very easy to halve. For this I made the quick caramel by melting 1/4 cup sugar in a small sauce pan and pouring a bit into each of the four cups before adding the custard mixture. I reduced the vanilla and omitted the nutmeg. A full recipe of the custard would have more depth. But this was a lovely bite of dessert.

Custard Tarts!

I had a baking weekend! Two types of bread and custard tarts. I have been fascinated by custard tarts ever since being a devotee of As Time Goes By on PBS. Lionel’s favorite was custard tarts. These pastry treats are not easily found in my grocery bakery. Nor are they a staple in many of my cookbooks. What type of custard is to be used? My two French cookbooks had several types: patisserie, baked, Chantilly, anglaise. I had recently made a pumpkin pie which is essentially a custard pie. Should I pre-bake the tart shells or could I bake the custard and the pastry at the same time? So I got out several cookbooks. I looked at the custard/pastry cream recipes. I had to choose what to do. So here’s what I did.

The Art of French Cooking suggested pastry cream for tarts. These recipes are a bit fussy. French Feasts instructions are not always clearly written. So that left (not really, I have over 50 cookbooks) Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. And his pastry cream recipe was simple and not fussy at all. The only change I made was to add the zest of one orange.

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs or 4 egg yolks (I used two eggs)
  • 2 cups cream, half-and=half, or whole milk (I used light cream)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest from one orange (my addition)
  • orange marmalade for glaze (my addition)
  • 4 tart shells; I used a refrigerated pie shell and cut it into four to line four individual tart pans. Pre-bake these.

Do you notice a theme of “2s”?

My successful blind baked tart shells. I used parchment filled with beans to hold the shells in place and to prevent shrinkage.

In a saucepan combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl mix the eggs with the cream. Whisk the egg mixture into the dry ingredients over medium heat for about ten minutes whisking constantly to prevent lumps. This will thicken. The test for readiness is when the mixture coats a spoon and when you draw a line through the coating the line will hold its shape. Remove from heat and stir in butter and extract and zest. The butter will melt. Let this cool to room temperature before filling the shells.

I filled the four tart shells and had a cup of pastry cream leftover. I think this amount of cream would fill a 9 inch pie, or 2 more individual tarts. I then melted a small amount of orange marmalade to spoon onto each tart for added orange flavor and to make them pretty. I then grated a very small amount of dark chocolate on top. Chocolate curls would have also been nice. I put these in the fridge to set for about an hour. I then popped them, carefully, out of the tart pan and placed them on a platter to serve.

They kind of look like poached eggs!
The first day we each had half. The next day we each ate a whole one.

And here are pictures of the breads. These were not so successful. Eaten when first baked but then left alone. They seemed underbaked and either overproofed or underproofed. I think I will buy fresh yeast before trying bread again.

Simple Custard with a little Extra

Way back when I had children in my house I made the Baked Custard recipe from my 1978 Betty Crocker’s Cookbook. This became the go to custard to make, although years have gone by without me making it. I was wanting to make a light dessert because we had been overeating and feeling too full and lethargic. I also had many, many eggs in the house and had been asked by my son to have the ingredients necessary for Creme Brulee for when he visits soon. He’s bringing a friend along!

This recipe for custard is nice because it can be cut by 1/3 super simply. Why, might you ask? The recipe makes six custard cups. For some reason I only wanted to make four, most likely because I only had 4 Pyrex custard cups!

Here are the ingredients for 4 custards:

  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 2/3 cups milk, scalded

Don’t be scared away by scalded milk. I put the milk (you can use half-and half also) in a glass measuring cup/bowl and nuked it in the microwave for one minute. That’s scalded enough for me.

In medium bowl whisk together the first four ingredients. Stir or whisk in the milk gradually. Pour into the custard cups. Being in the autumn mood, I put a tablespoon of pumpkin flavored chips in the bottom of each cup before pouring. I am not sure what outcome I was expecting but I was pleasantly surprised. I forgot to sprinkle nutmeg on the tops but this worked out well too.

The custard is baked in a bain marie. I find that my four larger custard cups fit nicely in a 9 x  13 inch baking pan. Pour boiling water into the pan to within an inch of the top of the custard cups. Bake for 45 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

(Silly me, I had the weirdest notion that I could bake the dessert while supper was cooking, entirely forgetting that pizza was to be baked for supper! Supper was a little later than planned that evening.)

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The pumpkin-flavored chips floated to the top and made a nice little crust. They also made a bit of goo on the bottom. Very tasty and pleasing textures in every bite.