Custard is a recipe that is based on heating, blending and slowly cooking a varying amount of egg yolks, milk and sugar. It is often flavoured with vanilla, in the form of the seeds from a vanilla pod, although you can more or less make any flavour of custard by adding other ingredients.
In the UK, custard is a sweet sauce that is medium - thick in consistency, which is poured onto your favourite dessert, however in other parts of the world, custard can be very thick and is used to give moisture and depth to sweet slices or individual sweet tarts such as custard tart or éclairs.
Unfortunately, although custard is a very popular dessert sauce, most people nowadays do not have the time to prepare it themselves and resort to serving ready-made custards from a can or instant custard made by adding boiling water to a prepared packet mix. As you would expect, the results are not quite the same, as nothing tastes better than a delicious homemade custard.
Traditionally, custard is made by using a double boiler, however it can just as easily be prepared in a saucepan, although care must be taken to cook the custard over a very low heat so that it does not curdle.
The most important thing to remember when making custard is to beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a separate mixing bowl and then pour the warm milk or cream over the egg yolk mixture into the mixing bowl rather than adding the egg yolks to the saucepan. This is so that the eggs do not cook and scramble. Once the eggs and sugar have been blended into the milk, the mixture can then be returned to the saucepan and the custard is cooked very slowly until it thickens to a creamy consistency.
For a very rich custard, which is unfortunately loaded with calories and fat, recipes will call for double cream to be used. On the other hand, for a lower fat version, you can substitute the double cream for single cream, milk or a mixture of the two.
Below are a number of recipes for making homemade custard; some using the traditional double boiler method, whilst others are simpler and ask for the custard to be prepared in a saucepan.
We also provide a number of variations of the traditionally flavoured custard and offer recipes on how to make different flavoured custards such as chocolate custard or orange custard.
Chocolate custard: Add 2 oz (55 g) of grated dark chocolate to the warmed milk before adding to the egg yolks.
Orange custard: Instead of using a vanilla pod, add the finely grated zest of 1 orange to the milk at stage 2 above.
Liqueur custard: Once the custard has been prepared, add 2 - 3 tbsp of kirsch, brandy or any other liqueur and stir well.
Toffee custard: Once the custard is ready to serve, add 50g of finely chopped toffee and mix well.