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Versatile Vanilla Custard

Vanilla Custard topped with fresh chopped mango, toasted almonds,

and Merlot-infused sea salt

This is a great recipe to have in your back pocket. It’s delicious on its own but it’s also a versatile base for many other desserts.

I adapted this from my grandma’s original recipe. Because it uses flour as a thickening agent, I cook this on low heat, stirring the entire time. While you can crank the heat and have it thicken up quickly, your custard will taste like flour. When you give it a bit of love, however, you’re left with the thickening power of the flour but none of the taste.

6 eggs

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

3 cups milk

1-1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Carefully crack the eggs and separate the yolks and the whites. Reserve the egg whites for another use (you can cover them and refrigerate for two days or freeze for several months; just defrost in the refrigerator overnight). Add the yolks to a small bowl and beat them with a fork. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, sift together the flour, salt, and sugar. Set aside.

Heat a second saucepan on low. Add the milk and scald it (just until little bubbles form around the edge of the pan). Remove the milk from the heat and whisk it into the dry ingredients (in the large saucepan) until well incorporated. Turn the heat on low and cook the milk mixture for 5 to 7 minutes or until thick, whisking the entire time. Remove the milk mixture from the heat.

Slowly whisk ½ cup of the warm milk mixture into the beaten eggs. You want to elevate the temperature of the eggs without scrambling them. Whisk the tempered eggs back into the milk mixture. Turn the heat back on low and cook for one minute. Remove from the heat.

The custard will be quite thick. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl (you will need to use a spoon or spatula to push it all through). Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover the custard with plastic wrap (push the plastic directly onto the custard to prevent a skin from forming). Place the custard in the refrigerator for two hours or until cold. Stir the custard and serve or use in another dessert.

Makes 3-1/2 cups.

Other Uses

1) Use in your favorite Coconut Cream Pie recipe.

2) Use in your favorite Banana Cream Pie or Banana Pudding recipes.

3) Lighten the custard with 1 cup whipped cream or meringue and pour into a baked pie shell for a Chiffon Pie.

4) Make Chocolate Custard by sifting 2 TBS of cocoa powder with the flour, and then following the recipe as written. You can also substitute 1 tsp pure peppermint extract for the vanilla extract to make a Chocolate Mint base.

5) Substitute 1 tsp pure lemon extract for the vanilla extract to make Lemon Pudding. Lemon Pudding is also delicious over poached or canned pears (use pears packed in natural juice rather than syrup).

6) Make parfaits using the custard and whatever you like. Your layers could have fruit (fresh, preserves, or sauce), chocolate (mini chips or chocolate sauce), toasted nuts, pretzel pieces, crushed potato chips, granola, or even chow mein noodles. Top your parfait with whipped cream.

7) Dollop a spoonful of custard into hot chocolate to make it even more decadent.

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