Everything We Need To Know About Custards


In custards, the proportion of eggs to sugar to dairy is critical, since texture and flavor hang in a delicate balance. Eggs lend sturdiness, and the most opulent custard desserts contain only egg yolks. Sugar also affects texture: The more sugar in a custard, the less firm it will tend to be, and the longer it will take to set. And the amount of fat in your dairy, whether cream or milk, will affect the dessert’s level of richness.


Custard is set in one of three different ways: with eggs, starch, or gelatin. Crème brûlée, pots de crème, and flan are thickened with egg; in contrast, pastry cream and American-style cheesecake often employ cornstarch or flour. Gelatin is used to add a gel-like consistency to Bavarian cream and most mousse recipes.


All custards are set using low, gentle heat. However, they fall into one of two categories: stirred (cooked on the stovetop) or baked (set in a water bath in the oven). Crème anglaise, pastry cream, mousse, and pudding are stirred; flan, crème brûlée, and pots de crème are baked. Custards can also be served at a wide range of temperatures: Serve crème anglaise warm, and it’s a sauce; freeze it and it becomes ice cream.


More elaborate custard desserts involve additional components, such as toppings or coatings. Crème brûlée contains a layer of hard caramel on top, achieved by melting sugar with a blowtorch; crème caramel is coated in a layer of soft caramel before being turned out.

When it comes to crème brûlée and flan, it’s mostly the toppings that distinguishes the two, as well as the presentation. The former has that signature crackly sugar crust on top, and the latter has the gooey, soft caramel top. Crème brûlée is served within mini soufflé dishes, and flan is served out of the dish, standing alone.


Crème brûlée is a baked custard made with sugar and thickened with egg yolks and cream. It’s topped with sugar that’s torched or broiled to form a hard caramel crust. This basic crème brûlée just uses light and heavy creams, sugar, vanilla, and yolks.

Crème anglaise is a stirred custard made with milk, sugar, and eggs (or sometimes gelatin).

American-style pudding is often made with cream and milk, sugar, gelatin, and a starch thickener such as cornstarch. It sometimes contains no eggs.

Pastry cream is a stirred custard made with milk, sugar, and egg yolks, and plenty of thickeners such as flour or cornstarch.

Pot de crème is a loosely set baked custard composed of cream, sugar, and egg yolks.

So now that you have all of that information which ones are your favorites? I tend to be a fan of creme brulee or flan depending on my mood.

Do you have a great recipe- let us know in the comments below!

Source:  Chowhound