Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Boiled custard is sort of like cooked eggnog, and as much as you'd think that'd appeal to Yankees afraid of cackleberry cooties, it's pretty exclusively a southern thing. Google recipes and the more popular the site you find one on, the more likely you'll have commenters angry that the custard "didn't set" or was "soupy."
That's because boiled custard is a beverage, not a pudding cup.
The egg is enough to thicken the sweetened milk, but it pours, it spills, it sloshes. You can use it as a sauce - I recommend fresh fruit and poundcake or meringues - but you're meant to pour a glass of it, and maybe add a shot of bourbon or Jack Daniels.
It's rich - this beverage is as much a dessert as those Mud Pie milkshakes at Bennigan's or what have you.
For half a gallon and some lagniappe (you can pour it back into the milk jug for refrigeration and have a few glasses of the excess still warm):
Heat half a gallon of milk and two cups of sugar in a double boiler - or just over medium heat, being careful.
If you have an immersion blender, you don't even have to be that careful - whizzing the custard after it's cooked will take care of lumps.
Add a couple vanilla beans, a cinnamon stick, or some orange peel if you like. I added some cherry, peach, and almond kernels along with vanilla beans, for a sort of New Orleans nectar flavor.
Beat 10 eggs in a separate bowl with plenty of excess room, so probably your large mixing bowl. When the milk is steaming, add a few cups of milk - a cup at a time - to the eggs, beating it in in order to warm the eggs up to temper them, so they don't cook as soon as they hit the hot pot of milk.
Add the warmed eggs to the pot. Fish out whatever solids you've been steeping (I didn't fish out the kernels, because I was using an immersion blender - do not try to blend a vanilla bean, though).
Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until it's thick enough to coat a spoon.
Remove from heat. Continue to stir until it has cooled down at least a little, to prevent the custard from overcooking on the bottom of the pot where the metal is still hot. Less necessary if you used a double boiler. This is also when you use an immersion blender to get rid of lumps, if you like. You can also strain the custard.
Let cool and refrigerate. It's actually best after a couple days in the fridge, for some reason.