Vanilla Custard

by Laura on March 5, 2011

I made coconut macaroons yesterday.  This recipe is an Ole to their Lena, a Hardy to their Laurel.  It’s a pairing recipe in every sense, a frugal sister to egg-white only recipes, and a happy partner for a crumble or a figgy pudding or a slice of chocolate cake.  You could eat it with a spoon, a kind of childhood dessert, simple and comforting, and oft overlooked.  But I think it’s best as half of a pair.  And it’s awfully nice to have a little jar of vanilla custard in the refrigerator when the mood strikes.  You’ll find yourself dribbling it on all sorts of things—into a pool over a sugared biscuit, or nested in a trifle between layers of sherry-soaked gènoise and homemade jam.  I first had this kind of pourable custard when I was a student at Oxford, with a gooseberry crumble, a doubly happy discovery.  I was a visiting student at Keble College, and I had finally learned that if you didn’t get your paws in there to grab the family style platters of the night’s offerings, you might sit the entire dinner, quietly and politely, holding up a platter in the hopes that one of the waitstaff would kindly refill it.  Alas, you might also walk away hungry.  I was even more shy then than I am now, so I left more than once without a single morsel crossing my lips.  (Thank goodness for pub grub. ) But on a student budget, I eventually learned to get in there and fight for my supper.  English students, I should clarify, were otherwise extrememly polite; conversation was lofty (when it wasn’t banal) and manners were definitely on display.  Thank goodness I got my act together before they served the gooseberry crumble with a pourable, old-fashioned custard like this one.  Mine is a little less gummy than the version served in the Keble dining hall.  It’s thicker than crème anglaise but not quite a pudding, a dreamy partner for just about anything sweet, and especially so for anything tart.  Since it only takes a few minutes to stir up, bookmark it and make it when you next make something with egg whites and need an Astaire to your Rogers.


{ 3 trackbacks }

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March 21, 2011 at 4:34 pm
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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pamela March 5, 2011 at 5:33 pm

I made this today too – and I almost put it in my Weck tulip jars.
Great minds think alike! :)

2 Laura March 5, 2011 at 6:36 pm

I guess so! Don’t you love these little jars?

3 Jill March 5, 2011 at 8:44 pm

And when was it, exactly, that you were *shy*?

4 Laura March 5, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Well, you’re family, Jill! Try coming to a cocktail party with me…

5 Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets March 6, 2011 at 12:26 am

Gorgeous photos! I especially love the one of the yolks. Custard must be so yummy :) .

6 Laura March 6, 2011 at 7:18 am

Thank you so much!

7 susan March 6, 2011 at 9:05 am

perfectly simple. your photos are delicious!

8 Laura March 6, 2011 at 11:52 am

Thank you!

9 Emma March 6, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I am totally in love with the way you’ve shot this – stunning!

10 Laura March 6, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Oh, thank you so much!

11 Joyce March 6, 2011 at 10:00 pm

I’ve been needing a way to get rid of egg yolks for a while now, so I gave this a whirl and it was amazing! Surprisingly it wasn’t as sweet as I expected, but so rich and the little vanilla bean seeds make me so happy!
Thanks Laura!

12 Laura March 6, 2011 at 10:20 pm

I started blogging a few months ago, and this has been the happiest part for me. I’m so glad you liked the recipe!

13 georgea March 10, 2011 at 11:45 am

Hi Laura,
My name is Georgea and I write a blog named Dishes&Details about dishes, plateware, serve ware, etc. I love the jar that you used for your Vanilla Custard- it has the most beautiful shape. What type of jar is it? Where can I find one?
Love your site and photographs!

14 Laura March 10, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Hi, Georgea. They are Weck tulip jars from Germany. I bought them at a local kitchen shop. Their website is

15 apt2bbakingco March 15, 2011 at 8:47 pm

wow, these photos are just stunning. those little vanilla bean flecks get me every time!

16 Laura March 16, 2011 at 6:35 am

Oh, thank you!

17 Jenny Hamrick April 23, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Hi Laura, I wondered if doubling the recipe works?? Gorgeously yummy photos! Happy Easter!

18 Laura April 23, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Absolutely! And thank you. Happy Easter!

19 Adrea May 8, 2011 at 11:56 am

I dreamed of custard last night and woke up this morning with an intense craving. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Thanks!

20 Laura May 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Hope you like the recipe!

21 Lakotalady January 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Was growing rather bummed out at not finding a flan or pudding that required heavy cream when I found yours. I do alot of cooking with the cream, great with my upgrading of ingredience. which is my weakness with the dairy, goes great with Italian dishes like alfredo and all my white sauces, and always seeking more. The heavy cream actually cuts down the time for the recipe to set up. I also cook alot with flavored alcohols, a 1/2 shot (2 TB) of mint, orange, lemon blackberry, you get my methods. I keep my husband guessing! :) . Thank you for the wonderful recipe, I have you in my favorites.

22 Lakotalady January 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Laura I forgot to tell you what I’m up to! I’m making flan using dark Karo in the dish in place of their recipe, and sprinking brown sugar over the karo. give it a little heat to get the carmel soft enough to move and will plate then. Yea, my minds like a little chatty cathy doll! Too many ideas and all at once!

23 Jena April 3, 2012 at 11:00 pm

This looks wonderful! Question: I know I have a few recipes that call for putting a hot pan in an ice bath immediately–but can’t that warp your pan?

24 Laura April 7, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Jena, If you have a solid pan with a pretty good gauge metal it will be just fine. If you don’t, skip the ice. Or better yet, cook the custard in a double boiler set-up. As it’s a gentler cooking method you won’t need to plunge the pan into cold water.

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