Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Egg custard, or how to preserve a profusion of milk

Simple egg custard  |  Egg custard, or how to preserve a profusion of milk on *sparklingly  |
{  Eggtastic custard cups  }

I do this thing where I check the price of something against the quantity, and then buy the best value. Usually that's not an issue...except when it comes to milk. We seem to go in phases of making coffee at home daily and not making coffee at home until the weekend. Since we really only use milk for coffee and the semi-regular weekend pancake-making / dessert-baking escapade, this can lead to quite a pickle (or, curdle) when neither of the two happens and we've got an expensive bottle of milk languishing on the fridge door.

Sometimes I get it together and freeze half, but sometimes everything comes to a head and I've got a bottle of milk that only has one day of freshness left, whether it was frozen or not, and I panic.

Which is how I came across the idea of making custard (thank you, Google!). After reading a bunch of different methods (with water bath, without water bath, with more eggs, with less eggs, with a cauldron of sweetener or less so), I threw some stuff in a bowl and jammed it in the oven with (burned) fingers crossed.

And, they came out really tastily!  So, if you find yourself in the same situation, or just with a hankering for some custard goodness, here you go:

makes 10 custard cups*
3 cups of milk
6 eggs
4 tablespoons of sweetener
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
pinch of sea salt
cinnamon to sprinkle on top
ramekins that have been buttered/oiled

+ Preheat your oven to 350F.

+ Warm the milk on the stove until it's just before the boil while you beat the eggs with sweetener, vanilla and salt. Slowly pour in the hot milk, a little at a time so as not to curdle your eggs. Take a few pauses after each pour to whisk thoroughly. When all the milk is in you'll have a deliciously scented, frothy batch of vanilla goodness. Pour the custard into your ramekins and sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon on top.

+ Once you warm up some water for your water bath (which can be done earlier), you'll be ready to assemble your custards for cooking.

+ This next series of steps I can share with you thanks to two burned fingers (you're welcome): place your custard cups in a larger pan that will hold all of them, open the oven door, ever so slightly pull out the middle rack, lean in and place the ramekin-filled pan on the rack, slowly push the rack back and only then pour your hot water into the pan itself while wearing oven mitts. Doing it this way ensures you don't burn your hands once, let alone twice, and helps prevent sloshing any pan water into the ramekins as you carefully lower it into the oven (oops!).

+ I checked my custards at 20 minutes and they weren't firm yet, but they were perfect after 30.

These adorable little munchkins are best served slightly warm or completely chilled, just not piping hot. A rosy strawberry or two on the side would not be at all out of place. 

Note: I think this would be easy to adapt depending on your milk / egg situation. Just double the number of eggs you use to the number of cups of milk you have, or vice versa. So, 3 cups of milk = 6 eggs. 4 eggs = 2 cups of milk. For an ever-so-slightly sweetened custard, add in 1 more tablespoon of sweetener than cups of milk. In my case, 3 cups of milk = 4 tablespoons of Grade B organic maple syrup, although that might not be the right proportion if you use sweetener with a different potency, like agave or stevia.

Note 2: Next time I might warm my milk up with a pod or two of cardamom. I'm already sniffing the air in anticipation of that heady scent!

* depends on the size of ramekins you use, of course. Mine are about 1/4 cup. You could also just put the batter in a cake pan for one large custard if you don't have enough ramekins (or any at all).


  1. i go milk debacle pretty often esp with regular cows milk. The boyfriend loves his whole milk but Im an almond milk person. But most of the time, whole milk ends up in the garbage. The boyfriend will be eating a lot of custards soon :P cardamom sounds delicious.

    1. OOooo, I bet these would be divine with almond milk + cardamom! If you end up making them (in whatever combination), let us know how it tastes!


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