Last Saturday afternoon, I was trying to come up with an idea for a festive Holiday dessert. After looking through my new cookbook, I realized that I neither had the time nor the ingredients to bake, cool, and decorate a cake for dessert that evening. So, I kept flipping through the pages, when I stumbled upon the “Custards” section.
As I began reading, I was surprised at how few ingredients custard requires: eggs, sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla. I was also surprised by how easy it looked to make this creamy and decadent dessert. I had always placed custard in the fancy dessert category. What I also never realized, was that depending on how these basic ingredients are used, there are so many different desserts that you can create. For example, by cooking egg yolks and cream in a saucepan, you can create custard sauce, or crème anglaise. I used to have crème anglaise poured over desserts when I lived in France. It was such a delicious treat, that I never imagined I could recreate it so easily with the ingredients I already had in my refrigerator. There is also “rich” custard, used in dishes like crème caramel, which also uses eggs and cream. My mom used to make crème caramel for us for special occasions when we were kids.
For my first attempt at custard, I decided to give the basic recipe a try. This recipe called for whole eggs and whole milk, which made the assembly very simple. My daughter and I mixed the ingredients together in just a few minutes. Then we baked the custard cups in the oven, and chilled them in the fridge in time for dessert that night.
Our last minute Baked Vanilla Custard with a dusting of nutmeg turned out to be a deceivingly fancy success. The mild and creamy vanilla flavor with a sprinkle of warm and spicy nutmeg made for a perfect Holiday dessert.
Happy Holidays and enjoy!
Recipe Source: Joy of Cooking 75th Anniversary Edition