There is nothing that compares to a homemade vanilla custard. Velvety and smooth, serve it with fresh berries or cinnamon.
This egg custard recipe is fairly traditional and is not meant to be super thick like a pastry cream for cake.
I have stuffed the sweet custard it into doughnuts before with no issues and used it for my cookie and strawberry trifle, even made it into a custard pie and creme brulee. It would also be ideal for bread pudding or even using for creme brulee, maybe even French Cream Puffs. Even banana pudding or a pudding pie.
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Homemade Custard Taste
Luscious, velvety, and smooth are the best ways to describe vanilla custard. It is a little thicker and richer than pudding. Some might refer to it as a creme anglaise or bavarian cream.
It usually has a more robust vanilla flavor since many are made with whole vanilla beans instead of extract. Although this version just uses a high quality extract.
Pudding Vs. Custard
Is pudding the same as custard? Sometimes used interchangeably, they are vastly different. I think of custard as being more silky smooth, if made correctly, of course.
The term pudding is used more in Western culture and it made from sweetened milk and thickened with cornstarch. It is a little thinner, but still creamy.
Old fashioned custard, however, is made from whole milk and eggs using low heat to produce the coagulation of the egg proteins, which thickens the sauce. This is why you’ll commonly hear it called egg custard. The shortcut version is to add cornstarch.
Homemade Vanilla Custard Recipe
Custard can be eaten plain, like pudding, and it is used in creme brûlée and other baked desserts like flan.
It doesn’t stop there though, most are hybrids between custard and pudding, like this recipe because I am using both eggs and a thickener- cornstarch.
As long as there is a large proportion of eggs, I typically call it a custard, they all produce a very similar texture and consistency. After the base is made, custards can be flavored with whatever floats your boat.
How to make Vanilla Custard
Making custard isn’t hard, but does require a few tips and tricks to make sure you don’t end up with a grainy, frothy or scrambled egg-y mess. It also combines the cornstarch slurry in with the flour instead of adding it separately.
Transfer back to the saucepan and whisk and heat over LOW heat until mixture starts to thicken, about 3-5 minutes. It won’t thicken all the way until it cools. Don’t bring to a boil or the mixture will get grainy.
Pour custard into bowls, custard cups or small ramekins and cover with plastic wrap. Tightly covering wrap to the top of the custard will prevent a skin from developing.
Chill for a minimum of 4 hours if in a large bowl, but 2 hours if in small bowls. Mixture can sit for up to 24 hours after being made before being served.
Topping custard is similar to topping ice cream or pudding. Anything you think will taste good, probably will. And if you make the vanilla flavor, nearly anything will complement it.
Here are my favorites:
Crumbled cookiesCrushed candyFresh fruitFresh mint Chocolate chips
You can also use other extracts and flavors like espresso, coffee or almond. After custard is complet, add freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon.
Instead of butter, whisk in 1-2 tablespoons of bourbon.
To make chocolate egg custard, add 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa to the cornstarch mixture.
History of Egg Custard
Apparently the origin of custard goes all the way back to when Queen Victoria sat on the throne. It was made to stuff into pastries and cakes rather than be eaten alone.
Then, Sir Alfred Bird created an eggless custard powder in 1837. It was made from sugar, cornstarch, flavorings, and colorings, and it only needed some hot milk added to it to make it into custard.
It is essentially what we know as instant pudding today. There were no eggs added to it because his wife was allergic to them.
A fun little fact for you is that he also created baking powder. I guess we have Sir Alfred Bird to thank for a couple things!
American custard is sometimes referred to as pastry cream in England and France. It is more stable than pudding and therefore makes a better sauce for stuffing pastries.
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Does Custard Have Raw Eggs?
Common question and the answer is…
It does contain near raw eggs, but has a little bit of heat added. If you are concerned, look for pasteurized or heat treated eggs at the grocery store.
Frozen Vanilla Custard
How do I make frozen custard?
To make frozen egg custard like you would buy at the store, you’ll need an ice cream maker to churn it. You can simply place the thickened version in the freezer, but it will be a solid hard brick.
You really need the churning and slow freeze to get it to be creamy. Follow your ice cream makers instructions for basic ice cream which usually includes freezer all the pieces and then allowing it to churn for 20-30 minutes before transferring to the freezer for hardening.