I seem to be on a vanilla, creamy texture, recipe kick lately! My last couple blog posts included recipes for vanilla pudding and vanilla frozen yogurt. I cannot deny that vanilla might be one of my most favorite flavors. There is just something about the warmth and sweetness of vanilla that always draws me in.
This recipe is for a basic vanilla custard. In regards to their ingredients, custards are very similar to puddings. However, custards and puddings differ when it comes to the cooking method. Puddings are cooked over the stove top, while custards are baked in the oven. There are recipes out there that cook custards over the stove top, but traditional custard is baked in the oven using a water bath.
I have tested out a lot of custard recipes and this recipe is by far the easiest, most forgiving recipe. Forgiving, because, milk and eggs can be extremely temperament. If not handled properly, they can turn a simple dish into a failing mess. This recipe seems to hold up every time, even if the ingredients are not handled with kid gloves.
For this recipe there are two baking items that are necessary. The first item the is needed are 6 ounce custard cups or ramekins. These cups can generally be found at most grocery or home good stores. You can also easily find them online. The second item the is needed is a 9 by 13 baking pan. The pan is needed so that the custard cups can sit in a water bath while they cook. Water baths add moisture to the oven so that the pudding does not crack from the heat of the oven. Without a water bath the proteins in the custard mixture can get overheated causing the custard to become very rubbery.
3 large eggs (beaten)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Dash of salt
2 1/2 cups very warm milk
Dash of ground nutmeg (optional)
Very hot water for water bath
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In medium sized bowl add beaten eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Whisk the ingredients until well combined. Slowly stir in the warm milk. Pour custard mixture into six (6 ounce) custard cups/ramekins. Sprinkle with nutmeg if you desire. Place the cups in 13 by 9 inch pan on oven rack. Pour very hot water into the pan so that it comes within 1/2 inch of tops of cups. Place cups in the water in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. The custard will be finished cooking when a knife inserted halfway between the center and the edge comes out clean. Carefully remove cups from water. Cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes. The custard can be served warm or cooled in the refrigerator. Store any leftover warm pudding or cooled custard covered in refrigerator.