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added all sugar to the milk making vanilla custard. Did I mess up?

Hi, need help.

Making pot de creme. The recipe calls for dissolving 1/2 sugar in milk mixture. 1/2 sugar mixed in yolks. Temper the yolk mixture with the milk mixture.

I added all the sugar to the milk. Is this going to screw up the results? Everything gets combined in the end, but I'm wondering if this misstep is important. What's going to happen? Grainy custard? Should I start over?

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  1. No, you're cool. Just proceed as normal. Don't overbake.

    Mixing the sugar with the yolks initially thins out and relaxes the egg proteins, working as a form of protein denaturing, but if the mix is left to sit for any length of time, as sugar is hygroscopic by nature and will absorb the water in the yolks, it may leave you with undesirable eggy clumps of protein; not good. Have you ever mixed sugar and egg yolks together and left it? Eventually you'll see a crust form on the surface of the yolk.

    Strain your custard base if you're concerned about graininess; actually, you should do it anyway whenever you make any kind of custard; removes the detritus.

    10 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      Thank you so much. So I guess I should skip the flavor developing step of allowing the base to sit for 8 hours in the refrigerator?

      1. re: david t.

        did you steep vanilla beans in the milk or are you using extract?

        1. re: chefj

          If you are using extract I do not see any flavor development happening for a rest.
          Be advised that a cold custard will take a much longer time to set.

          1. re: chefj

            By "longer time to set," are you referring to baking the custard base from it's cold (chilled) state? If so, the OP could let the custard come to room temp before baking.

            I assume the OP is using 4 oz pots de creme or ramekins; less mass, rapid heating of the custard, especially when set into a hot tap water bath. I don't think it's going to throw the timing off that much if the base is baked from a chilled state, maybe an extra 5-8 minutes. They will need to be checked for doneness, but they always do.

            1. re: bushwickgirl

              It will make a great difference in timing compared to a custard that has just been made and is pretty hot.
              Leaving the custard out at room Temp. will take quite a while. Not the most safe way to handle a raw custard.
              When you are talking about a 30 min < baking time, I would call 20%> more time significant.

              1. re: chefj

                Coming to room temp will only take quite a while if you have a gallon of base. A quart will not; portioned out, 15 minutes on the counter to take the chill off, will not create a unsafe handling situation in a base that's already been heated to probably 150° during tempering and is no longer "raw". Gently warming the base, while stirring, in a double boiler prior to baking is also an option.

                Regardless, it really doesn't matter whether custard is baked from a cold state or not. Your basic formula of a 4 oz ramekin of hot custard base takes about 20 minutes to set at the edge, at 325° in a hot water bath, given oven temp accuracy. So the OP has to check them for doneness, what's the difficulty with that? That the custard takes possibly 5-8 minutes more or less? How about lowering the oven temperature? The OP could start the custard in a cold water bath if he wanted to, with a 300° oven temp. The custard would take longer, but the cold water bath would retard the heat rise and allow for more even heat absorption when starting with cold base.

                I don't rely on stated recipe times or an oven timer for custard anyway, those are just guides.

                I don't know why the OP wants to steep the custard overnight; it's not normally done that way for pot de creme, but who knows, I haven't seen the OP's recipe. I can't see where it would create a problem, but I would have steeped whatever flavoring in the hot cream first before tempering. Hopefully results will be posted.

                1. re: bushwickgirl

                  The real point to this was why would they need to "Rest" the custard unless they were using something that would actually benefit from it?
                  I was trying to ascertain if the custard could just be cooked immediately. which would save all the bringing back to room temp, gently heat on a double boiler or any of this seemingly useless exercise.
                  The biggest problem with a delicate custard is the uneven heating from edge to center, so anything you do to increase that is not a good idea.
                  I at no point made a suggestion that you can rely on a time to judge when anything is done.
                  "I would have steeped whatever flavoring in the hot cream first before tempering." absolutely, I as well.

                2. re: chefj

                  What raw custard? Egg has already been tempered in.

                  1. re: jaykayen

                    Tempering is not a high enough temp to kill many bacteria strains.

          2. re: david t.

            By base you mean the combined eggs, milk and sugar? You can let it steep refrigerated, covered, without problem. Did you use vanilla beans that need to steep in the base?