Superb Vanilla Custard

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Props to Tori Avey for her delightful history and recipe at This custard reminds me of the old Audrey Hepburn movie Sabrina, where she is in culinary school learning to make souffle. Hers falls pitifully flat, but her instructor leans over the work of her classmate, looks it over, wafts the odor appraisingly, and in a tone of utmost satisfaction declares, "Superb." You need never look for a custard recipe again. Suitable for Boston Cream Pie, cream puffs, chocolate cake, or - dare we suggest? - eating by the bowlful.


  • 2 c milk (17 ounces/485 grams)
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 c granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c all-purpose flour, or 3 tbsp flour and 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten (use pastured or organic if possible)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (pasture-raised dairy unquestionably yields the best flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon rum


In a 2-quart heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the milk and 2 tablespoons sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until small bubbles appear around the edges. (The sugar helps to prevent the milk from scorching.) Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the remaining sugar, flour, and salt. Gradually stir in the warm milk. Return to the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the mixture bubbles, then boil for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and gradually beat half of the milk mixture into the eggs. Scrape the egg mixture back into the saucepan, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens or reaches 160°F, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter. Continue to whisk for about 20 seconds, then pour into a bowl. Stir in vanilla extract and/or rum. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and let stand at room temperature until cool, about 1 hour. The custard can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Do not beat the cooled custard or it will break down.


Rum is optional. Custard tastes delightful even without vanilla and rum, but both add an irresistable depth of flavor.