Friday, November 04, 2005

Two-Day Egg Custard

How is it that I can make something like dried ancho chiles stuffed with potatoes and chorizo in a chile-seed tomato sauce, yet a simple thing like egg custard defeats me?

Perhaps I never got around to making it in my 40-plus years of existence because of the name. "Egg custard." Are there two more ugly-sounding words in the English language. Say them. They just die on the middle palate (ok, that is one of my favorite wine-snob pronuncements (because it is pretty much undefineable and therefore unarguable)) but you get what I mean. Plah. Egg. Custard.

The other night Mr. Snackish requested egg custard. I flew into action, checking the internet for recipes because the infamous recipe bookcase was blocked by the furniture, which had been moved (and never replaced) for carpet cleaning.

Voila! A recipe for MICROWAVE egg custard. No stirring. No baking. No splashy dangerous bain marie!

I stirred together the few simple ingredients (eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla) and popped the things in the micro.

What emerged seven minutes later looked less like custard than thick, wet omelettes. I, not being too familiar with egg custard quality control, showed them to Mr. Snackish for his approval.

"What did you DO?" he wailed. "How can you screw up an egg custard so badly?"

Fortunately for me, the dog loves thick, wet omelettes.

Not to be deterred, I unwedged the Betty Crocker Cookbook from behind the couch, which was resting on its side in front of the bookshelf.

The only recipe for egg custard in the index was a custard you make for some kind of alcoholic beverage. Ok. It required cooking but no baking.

I assembled the ingredients and cooked, stirring constantly. And kept stirring. And kept stirring, long past the 20 minutes it said it would take to coat the back of a spoon. The Daily Show came and went, as well as most of the brilliant Colbert Report. It thickened, somewhat. I figured it would finish in the fridge.


The next day Mr. Snackish proclaimed his outrage at my having screwed up the recipe again. He said it was still thin and watery.

"Did you bake it?" he asked. "You have to bake it!"

So I suggested baking the custard I had already made. "It's the same ingredients that the baked custard recipes call for," I reasoned.

He finished the dish by baking it for 40 minutes in a bain marie. He took the dish out, as proud as if he had made it all himself.

"Now THAT," he said, "Is egg custard."

I would give you the recipe but I am sure there are better and easier ways to make egg custard than my 2-day method.

Or maybe the two-day method is just a family secret. My mom has an infamous 2-day potato salad that she makes. Take ordinary potato salad and mix in about 10 phone calls and a medical emergency and there you have it - 2-day potato salad.

If you have any one-day egg custard recipes, will you let me know?


Kalyn said...

Very funny. I have never attempted making custard either, but I did once work at a French restaurant that had the most amazing flan. They are long gone, so no hope of the recipe there.

holly said...

Williams Sonoma's creme brulee recipe has always worked out well for me; however, the custard might not be eggy enough for mr. snackish.

Suebob said...

Thanks, Holly and Kalyn.

He rejects creme brulee (imagine!) for being too rich. But I am quite fine with it LOL

Debbie said...

I made a decent (and very easy) egg custard from one of the Chris Kimball books, but it wasn't in individual ramekins. It baked in a pyrex casserole. If you want me to send you the recipe then shoot me an e-mail at

dobbs said...

Enjoyed your interesting egg custard tale - glad it turned out well after all the effort!
Btw you remove your typepad blog or moved it somewhere else?

sue said...

I've used this custard recipe with good results. The water bath treats the whites gently and keeps them from hardening, so custard stays smooth and soft. (this works well with egg-rich cheescakes, too)
4 egg yolks
2 egg whites
pinch salt
2 T cognac
1/2 tsp vanilla
freshly grated nutmeg (to taste)
1 c. evap milk
1 c. light cream
1/2 c water
1/2 c sugar
Beat yolks, and whites in a bowl with flavorings.
Heat evap milk, cream and water together till scalded (small bubbles appear) but don't allow to boil. Stir in sugar and stir till dissolved. Whisk milk into egg mixture. Divide among custard cups and place them in a lg baking dish with hot water 1/2 way up sides of cups.
Bake at 350 about 25-30 min. Center should jiggle slightly when gently shanken--custard will contiunue to set up as it cools. Lift cups from water bath, cool on rack. Cool and refrigerate or serve slightly warm.

Real comfort food.

Suebob said...

Thanks so much, Sue and Debbie.