I have very fond memories of the homemade custard that my Dad’s mum, “Mama,” made for Christmas every year when I was younger. Eventually she decided that she’d done enough Friend Family Christmases – the event now alternates between my parents’ house and Dad’s brother’s family’s house every Christmas Eve – and the custard has never been the same since. Store bought, no matter how good, is never as good as fresh, warm custard.
This recipe is very versatile. It can be used to make a great pouring custard or kept on the stove a little longer to thicken more and is a great filling for tart shells or eclairs.
This recipe makes enough to pour on dessert for around 6-8 people, or to fill 6 small tart shells.
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup thickened cream/heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 vanilla bean (optional)
- 1/2 cup castor sugar
- 3 tbsp. corn starch
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract (a little more if you don’t have a vanilla bean)
To make the custard, heat milk slowly in a medium saucepan until it is just bubbling at the edges.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine sugar and corn starch and mix well. Stir into hot milk all at once. Cook, stirring over a medium heat, until it boils. This takes time, don’t be impatient; and keep stirring or you will get lumpy custard.
Reduce the heat and simmer for one minute. Beat a small amount of the mixture into the egg yolks and then pour the egg yolks back into the saucepan and cook, stirring, over a medium heat until the mixture boils and thickens. Stir vanilla in at the end. Again, don’t rush the process or your custard will be lumpy. It can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much custard you are making and how “medium” your stove heat really is. If you are making a pouring custard, you can leave it a little runny. However, if you want this custard to support any toppings it will need to be quite thick.
If you are going to let the custard cool, place a sheet of waxed paper over the surface to prevent a skin from forming on the custard, or simply place the lid on the pot. Once the custard has cooled down to a lukewarm/room temperature, you can use it to fill tart shells or eclairs etc.
If you are planning to use the custard for pouring, then make it as close to when you need to use it as possible and then leave it on a very low heat to keep it warm.
I have tried to reheat this custard before and it tends to become lumpy, even with a low heat… but maybe someone else would have better luck than me? If you have any tricks, I’d love to hear them.