This is a very dangerous custard.
I take no responsibility for whether your skinny jeans will close once you’ve read this, or what you look like in your bathers. Or if you get busted swiping a finger through this while rifling through the fridge in search of pink wine.
And I don’t even particularly like custard.
This custard was the sweet gilding of our first Christmas pudding , eaten at the close of our tree trimming feast.
The Hungry One had requested eggnog, in a nod to the season. To be honest, the concept of eggnog- frankendrink that combines the fluffiness of a pisco sour with the glugginess of a vanilla thickshake and the booze punch of a shot of brandy- makes me shudder.
Christmas beverages back in sunny Sydney involve berries and white rum. We celebrate with cerise hued daiquiris that are heavy on the Cointreau, please. I’m starting to get my head around mulled wine, but drinking eggnog is a whole other matter together.
But the Christmassy flavours of cinamon, brandy and nutmeg deserved a place at the table. And so this custard was born. It was so simple- the base recipe is a custard recipe via Fergus Henderson. I made it in a double boiler contraption, because my whisk can never properly get into the corners of my saucepan properly and I often end up with a collar of cooked eggs spilling crusting the bottom, which makes me very sad.
Instead of ground spices, I simply dumped a cinnamon quill and a whole nutmeg in with the milk and cream- and then never fished them out.
They just bobbed about, like pieces of flotsam or forgotten cargo- all the while gently seeping warm and cosy Christmas flavours through the custard.
It was very good served cold on the pudding. It would be lovely over smashed amaretti or ginger nut biscuits. It would be lovely turned into a mousse (with some whipped eggwhites folded through). It would be charming as a creme brulee, if you had a blow torch handy. And with the slight addition of some cornflour it could be happily piped into choux buns for a Christmas croquenbouche.
But in all honesty, it was loveliest furtively eaten with a spoon first thing the morning, crouching down in front of the fridge while your spouse eats his muesli, and you’re due at the gym. I told you it was a dangerous custard.
115 grams of caster sugar
300 ml milk
300 ml double cream
4 egg yolks
1 cinnamon quill
1 nutmeg seed
2 tablespoons of brandy
A saucepan, double boiler (or heat-proof bowl that can fit over the saucepan) and a whisk. Boiling water.
Here’s how we roll
1. Place the milk, cream, cinnamon quill and nutmeg into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
2. In a large heatproof bowl whisk together the egg yolks and the caster sugar until they are duckling yellow and fluffy.
3. Boil the kettle as the milk and custard come to the boil.
4. Pour the boiling milk and cream out of the saucepan and over the eggs and sugar. Whisk together until smooth.
5. Fill the saucepan with boiling water and return it to the stove.
6. Put your bowl with the eggs, milk, spices, sugar and cream ontop of the boiling water. Gently stir and stir and stir, trying not to let the spices splosh out of the bowl.
7. Add the two tablespoons of brandy.
8. Keep the heat at a gentle level and cook it slowly, stirring and giving it attention.Whatever happens, do not let the custard boil. It’s done when it feels thick enough to you. Technically when it coats the back of a spoon you should be able to swipe through the middle and the lines will stay. NB, it will thicken more in the fridge.
9. Keep the cinnamon and nutmeg in the custard until you serve it- they’ll keep leaching out good flavours over time.