Copyright © 2000 Sarah Phillips Sarah Phillips, Inc. All rights reserved.
STIRRED (STOVETOP) CUSTARDS
Stirred custards, also known as soft custard, custard sauce or, erroneously, boiled custard, are stirred while being cooked over low heat or in a double boiler to a smooth, creamy and thickened fluid consistency. The recipe is then refrigerated where it will continue to thicken more. Stirred custards never gel like baked custards do; the repeated stirring prevents the formation of a gel, primarily from eggs, leaving the resulting custards perfect to use as fillings, sauces or ice cream bases.
Bavarian Cream: A cold dessert composed of a cooked, rich custard, whipped cream, various flavorings, such as fruit puree, chocolate, liqueurs, stabilized with gelatin. The mixture may be spooned into stemmed glasses or into a decorative mold to be unmolded when set. Try our Bavarian Cream Recipe.
Charlotte: This classic molded dessert begins with a mold lined with sponge cake, ladyfingers or buttered bread. The traditional charlotte container is pail-shaped, but almost any mold is acceptable. The lined mold is then filled with layers (or a mixture) of fruit and cooked custard or whipped cream that has been fortified with gelatin. The dessert is chilled thoroughly and unmolded before serving.
Charlotte Russe, said to have been created for the Russian Czar Alexander, is a ladyfinger shell filled with the ethereal bavarian cream, and decorated elaborately with whipped-cream rosettes. The classic Apple Charlotte is a buttered-bread shell filled with spiced, sautéed apples. Unlike other charlottes, this one is baked and served hot.
Citrus (Lemon) Curds: a custard made with lemon juice, butter, sugar, and eggs and used as a spread or filling. But, curds can be made in other flavors, such as raspberry, lime and orange, for example.
Cream Pies: are where the filling is made from a cooked custard or mousse, spread in a cooled, pre-baked pie shell versus a baked custard pie when the filling, an uncooked custard, is poured into a pie shell and both are baked together. A Pumpkin Pie is considered to be a custard pie as is a Pecan Pie.
Creme Anglaise: The French term for a rich cooked custard sauce that can be served hot or cold over cake, fruit or other desserts. Try our Creme Anglaise Recipe. (See also: Cream or Custard Sauce or Vanilla Sauce).
Creme (see Pastry Cream)
Pastry Cream: Considered the mother of all creams! It is classic stovetop custard made with starch, such as cornstarch. It is simply heated and stirred directly on the stove until boiling. It is then strained before cooling; with any stirred custard, it is a good idea to strain it right after cooking because it contains eggs. Straining removes any tell-tale signs of small, cooked egg white lumps also known as chalazae.
Vanilla Sauce: Vanilla sauce is considered a "mother sauce" in pastry. It is used as the base in many creams, mousses, ice cream and desserts. It is sometimes referred to as - Crème Anglaise, Cream or Custard Sauce and English crème/sauce. It is based on milk, sugar and egg yolks.
Zabaglione: is a classic Italian dessert cooked on the stovetop, that is an egg custard flavored with sweet wine. While traditional Tiramisu calls for raw egg yolks, often recipes use Zabaglione. Of course, you also serve just it on its own over a slice of plain cake or ladyfingers or even with fresh berries. We use zabaglione filling in our Italian Sponge Cake or Pan di Spagna Espresso Tiramisu Recipe.
They are not stirred during the baking process, thus giving a more solid texture. The use of a waterbath or water bath helps heat-sensitive egg custards bake low and slow in the oven, protecting the delicate egg proteins. The recipe's very center still may not be quite done, and often recipe directions call for baking until its center is still wiggly (but not slosh) when its container is tapped lightly on its side with the handle of a wooden spoon. The heat retained in the mixture will continue to cook it after removal from the oven, and subsequent refrigeration will help the mixture gel fully. Cooking longer may result in curdled and/or weeping custard. Cooking a shorter period may result in thickened but not set custard.
Simple Baked Custard: They are the lightest of all of the custard desserts. They have a lower ratio of eggs to liquid (typically milk), and as a result, will gel with little structure and cannot be unmolded before serving.
Cheesecakes: Sometimes classified as a flourless cake, a cheesecake is basically a custard baked in the oven, however, it can also be unbaked or typically molded in a dessert ring or springform pan then simply chilled before unmolding.
Clafoutis (Clafouti): See Pudding Cakes
Crème Brûlée: is French for burnt custard baked in the oven and served in its same container. It is a creamy and sinfully rich dessert, which blends the cool velvet smoothness of custard topped with a crisp, caramelized layer of sugar, caramelized just before serving. Many say that the origin of “burnt cream” can be traced not to France, but instead to Trinity College in 17th century England. Compared to crème caramel or flan, crème brûlée is very rich because recipes usually contain heavy cream and lots of egg yolks.
Crème Caramel: is a fairly light custard, often made with milk as all or part of the dairy and with added yolks for some degree of richness, baked in a ramekin or mold with a layer of caramel at the bottom. It is often thought of as Flan's cousin, although flan is richer. Crème caramel is unmolded before serving, and the caramel pools around the custard. It is a standard in France where it is known as Crème Renversée.
Custard Pies: is when the filling, uncooked custard, is poured into a pie shell and both are baked together. (Versus a cream pie, where the filling is made from a cooked custard or mousse, spread in a cooled, pre-baked pie shell.) A Pumpkin Pie is considered to be a custard pie as is a Pecan Pie.
QUESTION: When making a custard pie, I have a problem with the custard soaking through the crust and ruined my whole pie. What can I do to prevent this ?
SARAH SAYS: Moisture proof the crust. Prebake the crust and allow it to cool. One way we like to do it is to coat the bottom with chocolate ganache; I discovered it won’t crack when you cut into it the same way hardened chocolate will. Fill the pie and bake. No soggy bottoms and better tasting pies!
Flan: is commonly used as a term to describe the Spanish or Mexican version of crème caramel. It is also baked in a caramel-lined mold. When inverted, the caramel baked on the bottom becomes the topping. Flan, however, is usually richer and denser than crème caramel because recipe's contain more eggs and yolks, as well as some cream or evaporated or condensed milk.
Pots de Creme: French for "pot of cream," is traditionally served in small, lidded porcelain cups and are rich custard desserts, relatives of Crème Brûlée, Crème Caramel, and flan. This custard is very rich, like crème brûlée, because recipes use a very high proportion of egg yolks to whole eggs, if used at all.
Pudding Cakes: They are basically baked egg custards.