My mother always makes Vanilla Custard in the same bowl. It is speckled brown and deep, enough so that most of my vanilla scented memories are of me standing on my tippy toes peering over the rim to check if it is cool enough to eat even when the pillowy steam suggests otherwise. I remember my finger skimming the surface tugging along with it the ‘skin’ that formed on top, a testimony to the impatience of a child waiting for a treat. Not wanting to leave this proof of my transgression behind I would shake the bowl a little hoping the skin would settle into forgiving smoothness.
Not too long ago my little(r) girl stuck a spoonful of warm custard in her mouth all of 30 seconds after being admonished not to. When I looked up in response to her pained gasp she defensively said “But mama hot things are tasty!” It was all I could do to not laugh out loud.
I frequently see custard served in things – trifles, pastries, cakes (boston cream pie), eclairs, etc and more often than not those custards in flavor and texture are right to play second fiddle. What I like to make and eat is a custard that is the star, one that you can eat with a spoon, topped with a little fruit or some pralined nuts. Something deliciously comforting that is worth risking a mouth burn or two. This Vanilla Bean Custard is just that, it strikes that perfect balance between light and luscious and the headiness of a vanilla bean is perfection. It is oft requested and for good reason.
- One Vanilla Bean
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- A tiny sprinkling 1/8 of a tsp salt
- For serving: fresh fruit candied nuts, cake to drizzle it over etc.
* Split the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and put the seeds, the pod, the sugar, the cream and the milk in a small to medium saucepan.
* Cook of low-medium heat whisking frequently until the sugar is dissolved
* In another bowl whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch and salt together
* Add a splash of the warm milk mixture to the yolk mix and mix to 'temper' the egg yolks - this will help save them from curdling when you add them back to the saucepan
* Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan whisking to combine
* Cook on low-medium heat stirring frequently for about 15 minutes, the custard will easily coat the back of a spoon.
* Remove the vanilla pod and eat warm or cold
* The custard will seem thickened fairly quickly, but you must let it cook because otherwise when it cools it will become watery. If that does happen then just put it back in the saucepan and cook it further.
* Stirring/whisking constantly is necessary because otherwise the eggs will become 'scrambled' in your custard which is quite unpleasant