Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Recipe: Vanilla Custard

Hot, sweet cups.
Today's recipe comes from Martha Stewart's website:

Vanilla Bean Custard Recipe

The first time I tried it, my custard's top level was all rough and bubbly like the picture with the source recipe. The second time I attempted a smoother top by melting the sugar along with the hot milk mix, minimizing stirring to minimize air bubbles in the final mix. The result was indeed smooth on top, but there were noticeable bits of egg within the custard. Ew! The third time I made this custard (pictured to the right), I whisked together the sugar and eggs as originally instructed, then added a step of skimming the froth off the top. Best of both worlds! Take that, Martha.

Special Equipment

Four 6-7 oz ramekins.
A roasting pan.
Canning tongs (helpful to avoid scalding hands).

Prepare a Hot Bath

Place an oven rack about one-third up from the bottom, then preheat oven to 300° F.

On the counter, place ramekins in the roasting pan, then pour water into the roasting pan until the water level is about 3/4 up the sides of the ramekins. Remove the ramekins, cover the roasting pan, and put the pan in the oven to let the water heat up with the oven.

The White and the Yellow

In a medium saucepan, pour:

1 1/4 cups milk
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Begin heating this dairy mix with a goal of simmering. In the meanwhile, put the following into a mixing bowl:

6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar

Whisk yolks and sugar together until smooth and frothy. The sugar granules will grind the egg yolks up, preventing any noticeable "bits of egg" in the custard. (Use the egg whites for something nice, like a breakfast burrito!)

Check on your dairy mix. When the temperature gets close to simmering, stir frequently to keep any milk from burning on the bottom of the pan. The original recipe said to "boil" the milk, but I know from yogurt making that simmering milk for a few minutes leads to better texture later and avoids any burned-milk taste. So do that!

Stir the simmering milk mixture into the egg mixture. For smoother custard tops, skim off as much of the froth as you can.

Not so frothy.

Happy Little Custard Cups

Ladle the goodness into your ramekins:

Burst the little bubbles if you can.

Then open the oven, slide out the roasting pan, take off its lid, and use canning tongs to place the cups in their hot bath. Take care not to get any water drops in the custard, as this has a much more noticeable effect than you might expect!

The reason for a water bath is to keep the custard cooking at a low 212° F (boiling temp.) and to keep the tops moist from the steam. This also means it's not important to rush to close the oven door again. It's the water, not the air in the oven that's important.

Start checking your cups after about 20 minutes. Tap the middle of one of the cups with a finger. When it responds like something other than a full-on liquid, they're done! At least...they will be done as they continue to cook from their own heat for several minutes. Don't wait for your custard look done in the oven, or it will overcook!

Poke. Poke. Poke.

Use your tongs to put the ramekins on a wire rack as soon as you can. Dust with cinnamon or nutmeg. Tastes great warm, or refrigerate for later!

1 comment:

  1. Cindy 'Hall' HochstetlerOctober 29, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    very cool, especially the tapping.