The Art that is Custard

iStock 000007951164XSmall 300x201 The Art that is CustardSmooth, silky, sweet and tasty, those are just some words to describe such an exquisite dish that can make my knees shake just at the thought of getting a single bite of them. It’s a taste that borders more on the heavenly – a dessert called custard.

Custard is a dessert made by cooking a mixture of eggs, milk and sugar over a very low flame until they reach a thicker consistency. The thickness depends on the tastes, purpose and needs of the one cooking it. It might by a bit runny (akin to syrup that is served in small bowls or poured on desserts), or thicker (the type used as filling for éclairs or pies). It is often flavored with vanilla, although there are others that can be used with it like chocolate and lemon. There are also custards that are considered as savory; for example, quiche, chawanmushi, and gyeran jjim, and Chinese steamed eggs.

But the main point of my blog would be discussing about the sweet kinds. It’s a given that we all have a bit of a sweet tooth, and that we can’t help but be swept away by something that is so soft and sweet. I’m sure that there are plenty of you who enjoy the taste of custards. The only problem perhaps is the lack of time. Custard can be extremely time-consuming, that’s why there are many people who would opt to buy pre-mixed ones in the supermarket. Still, nothing beats the original, so do make the effort to make one when the chance presents itself.

There are some nifty tricks that you should follow so that you can create perfect custards. If you do it correctly, then you can enjoy wonderfully made custard that you and your family can enjoy:

1. Stir constantly – this will prevent the mixture from clumping, therefore, ruining the custard.
2. Use very low heat – in that way, the mixture is heated thoroughly and prevents curdling of the mixture.
3. Cool slightly – this applies when you’re using custard as pie filling, since a cool crust gets soggy when poured on by hot custard.
4. Strain – this will make sure no tell-tale bits of egg or other unsightly solids remain in the custard. Remember, custard must have a smooth consistency, strain well.
5. Cook right – eggs are needed for custards, but it might harbor bacteria that are bad for health. So you should thoroughly cook the dessert.

Reminds me, you might be curious about custard recipes that you could try at home. Here are some:

5246668336 cf74cf9b52 300x199 The Art that is CustardSPANISH FLAN

Ingredients:
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed
milk
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt sugar until it becomes a liquid and turns into a golden syrup. Carefully pour the hot sugar syrup into a 9 inch round oven proof glass baking dish. Swish the dish to evenly coat the bottom and sides then set aside.
3. Beat the eggs, then add the condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla and beat until smooth. Pour the egg mixture into baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.
4. Bake for an hour, remove from heat and let cool completely.
5. Once it has cooled, put a serving plate on top and invert.

5187109958 8c9f5f90a7 300x200 The Art that is CustardFRENCH CREME BRULEE

Ingredients:
18fl oz double cream
1 vanilla pod
4oz superfine sugar (plus extra for the topping)
3 egg yolks
2 whole eggs

Directions:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 275°F
2. Pour the cream into a saucepan. Split the vanilla pod lengthwise, scrape the seeds into the cream. Chop the empty pod into bits and add to the mixture. Bring to a boil. Immediately turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Set aside for ten minutes.
3. Beat the sugar and the eggs together in a large heat-proof bowl until pale and creamy. Bring the cream back to boiling point, pour over the egg mixture while whisking. When it has thickened (the eggs have begun to cook) you will have a smooth custard. If you have a grainy texture you have over-cooked the custard. Start over again.
4. Strain through a fine sieve into a large pyrex, fill 6 ramekins to two thirds full.
5. Place the ramekins in a large oven proof tray and pour in enough hot water to come halfway up their sides (this is called Bain de Marie and allows for even cooking). Place on the center shelf. Bake for 40 minutes.
6. Remove from the water, let cool and enjoy

5231905080 e0b55aae93 300x169 The Art that is CustardGREEK GALAKTOBOUREKO

Ingredients:
1 pkg commercial filo pastry
Melted butter

For the custard:
6 1/2 cups milk
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup plus 2 tbsp fine semolina
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

For the Syrup:
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1/2 lemon

Directions:
1. Put the milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil slowly, then remove from heat. Beat the eggs and sugar together in a bowl until frothy. Add the semolina, grated lemon zest and milk and blend well.
2. Place this mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring, for about 10 minute or until the mixture thickens. Add the vanilla and melted butter, stir well, and continue to simmer for 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 350F. Allow 2 1/2 filo sheets per pie. Lay the 2 filo down on a flat surface. Place the half-sheet over one half of the 2 filo sheets. Fold the other half of the 2 filo sheets over the half-sheet. Brush with the melted butter. Place 3 to 4 tbsp of the custard filling along the length of the filo at one end and carefully roll the filo and custard filling up in a roll.
3. Repeat the process with the other pies. Place the pies on a baking sheet, sprinkle with a little water, and bake for 40 minutes or until the pies are golden brown. Leave to cool.
4. To make the syrup: Place the sugar, water, lemon juice and lemon zest in a saucepan and simmer, stirring, for 10 minutes. To serve, place the pies on a platter and serve either hot or cold with the syrup poured over them or served as a separate sauce.

5186519715 90ec483869 300x199 The Art that is CustardITALIAN ZABAGLIONE

Ingredients:
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup Marsala wine
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Ground cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg
Vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped
Strawberries, raspberries, lady fingers or biscotti

Instructions:
1. Place egg yolks, and sugar in a large, round-bottomed stainless steel bowl.
2. Add grated lemon peel and a pinch of cinnamon and a drop of vanilla extract to the yolk mixture.
3. Pour in the Marsala wine.
4. You can use sweet Vermouth as a substitute for the Marsala.
5. Half-fill a pot with water, bring the water to a simmer and reduce the heat to low.
6. Set the pan or bowl containing the custard mixture over the water. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.
7. Whisk the custard mixture, making sure that the water does not boil. This ensures that a gentle, even heat thickens the mixture without curdling it. Whisking traps air in the yolks for a light, fluffy mixture.
8. Continue whisking for about 10 minutes, until the mixture triples in volume, froths up and becomes pale.
9. When it reaches the desired consistency, take the container of custard out of the pot.
10. Slightly thickened, the custard can be used as a sauce.
11. Longer cooking will thicken the custard further, giving it the texture of mousse.
12. Continue whisking for a minute or two to prevent the custard from sticking to its container.
13. Serve the custard while still warm, or, if you want to serve it cool, set it aside for about 15 minutes.
14. Whisk heavy cream until it forms soft peaks.
15. Add the whipped cream to the cooled custard and use a whisk to gently fold them together.
16. Reserve some of the whipped cream to serve on top.
17. Ladle the zabaglione into individual dishes.
18. Serve with whipped cream, berries, and/or cookies such as biscotti.

custard pie 300x209 The Art that is CustardBRITISH EGG CUSTARD

Ingredients:
10 fl oz semi-skimmed milk
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp superfine sugar
1 tsp cornflour

Directions:
1. Put the milk and vanilla pod into a heavy-based saucepan and heat until just starting to simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, mix together the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour to a smooth paste in a mixing bowl or jug.
3. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk. If liked, scrape the seeds into the milk for a stronger vanilla flavor. Pour the warm milk onto the egg mixture, stirring.
4. Pour back into the pan and cook gently over a low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon in a thin layer. Do not allow the custard to boil, and remove from the heat as soon as it has thickened. Serve the custard hot or cool.

1x1.trans The Art that is Custard

Marlon Mata

1x1.trans The Art that is Custard

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