Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Creamy Egg Custard and Murder 203 with Cleo Coyle

Warm egg custard brings back equally warm memories for me...of Mom and home, crowded family kitchens, and those wonderful smells of good things baking in the oven: eggs, milk, vanilla, and nutmeg.

My recipe for you this week is an easy but evocative one, a simple dessert that I hope will bring back that feeling of comfort for you, too. We can all use it these days, I think.

But first a quick announcement.
I will be appearing at...

MURDER 203 on
Saturday April 14

My husband, Marc, will be attending with me. For the first time, we'll be on panels, signing books, and meeting you. So if you're attending be sure to say hello and let us know that you're a fan of Mystery Lovers' Kitchen!

What is Murder 203? It's a Mystery Festival held
by the Easton Public Library in Easton, Connecticut. 

Early Bird discount for those who register by
March 1 (postmark).
You can also register
later and walk-ins are welcome, too.

Learn more at the Murder 203
web site by
clicking here.

And now for this
week's recipe...

Cleo Coyle, who craves 
comfort foods in winter,
is author of 

Cleo Coyle’s 
Creamy Egg Custard

Baked egg custard is a lovely and satisfying comfort food that I've been eating ever since my mother made it for me as a child. I've baked it countless times since and am happy to share two tips I've learned along the way for producing a lovely custard with a smooth top and silky, creamy texture.

(1) Use room temperature eggs. Simply warm them quickly in a bowl of warm water from the tap. This will help loosen the albumin (protein) in the egg and make it easier for you to properly blend the custard.

(2) Bake it low and slow and do not put foil on top of the custard cups or the roasting pan (as some recipes suggest). Below I'll show you what happens if you try to speed up the baking with a higher temperature or foil on top.
So here you go. Comfort in a cup from me to you, with a bit of nutmeg sprinkled on top…

To download this recipe in a free PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here!

Servings: 4 (in 4-ounce size ramekins or custard cups)


1-1/4 cups whole milk
3 large eggs, room temperature 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar, sifted

Directions: Whisk together all ingredients until well blended and pour into 4 four-ounce size ramekins or custard cups. Place cups in a roasting pan or baking dish and create a shallow water bath by filling just enough to reach halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake uncovered in a preheated 325° F. oven for 1 hour and 5 minutes. The time may be a little longer or shorter, depending on your oven.

When is it done?
You are looking for the top to set. The custard may still jiggle slightly, but the top should no longer be liquid. It should feel firm (spongy but set) when lightly touched. And when a toothpick or skewer is inserted down into the custard at the edge of the cup, it should come out clean. Otherwise, keep baking and checking.

Remove from oven: Take the cups out of the water bath, and allow them to cool for one hour on a rack. 

Serve and store: Eat the freshly baked custard at once or chill by placing plastic wrap over the top of each cup and storing in the refrigerator. (The plastic prevents a thick skin from forming on the custard.) 

Photos and notes...

Whisk all ingredients together, divide evenly among
your 4 ramekins or custard cups. You'll notice that the nutmeg
floats to the top of the unbaked liquid. No worries.
It will look great in the finished custard,
as if you've sprinkled it on top.

Place ramekins in a shallow roasting or baking pan.
Fill with water, about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Baking tips...

To the left is what happens if you follow this recipe and bake the custard (uncovered) in a water bath at 325 degrees F. for 1 hour and 5 minutes.

To the right is what happens if you try to rush the process of baking by raising the oven temperature or covering the pan with foil. 

Do you see those unsightly pockmarks on the top of the custard? That comes from the custard boiling instead of cooking slowly. In the batch at the right, I sealed aluminum foil over the roasting pan. Yes, this sped up the cooking time, but it also made the custard boil, creating this less silky result.

Allow the custard to cool for an hour after removing from the oven.
If you chill or store in the fridge, don't forget to seal plastic wrap
over the top of the ramekins or custard cups to prevent
a skin from forming. 

Now all you have to do is
pour a fresh cup of coffee and...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of

To get more of my recipes, enter to win
free coffee, or 
learn about my books, including
my bestselling 
Haunted Bookshop series, visit my online coffeehouse: CoffeehouseMystery.com

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.


  1. Oooh, that custard looks scrumptious! I'm tempted to make some right now, although it would keep me up kind of late ... worth it, though!

    1. Definitely worth it - and incredibly easy. That's what I like about this recipe. Mix, bake...spoon up custard bliss. :) Thanks for dropping by the Kitchen, Wendy. About time for some *virtual* coffee, don't you think? I'll put the pot on...

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  2. Cleo, I love any kind of custard and you make this one sound so easy!

    I'll be at Murder 203 also--it's such a fun small conference. Book lovers get lots of face time with the authors and everyone goes away happy!

    1. Lucy - Marc and I look forward to seeing you there! This will be the first time we've attended Murder 203, and I'm so glad to hear that you've enjoyed it in the past. Face time with readers sounds wonderful to me. :)

      Thanks for dropping by the Kitchen today. Have a great week!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  3. Cleo, love the custard. And I'm so sorry I can't make Murder 203. I know you'll have a fabulous time. I attended the very first one. It has grown and there are fabulous authors there. You and Mark will be in good company. Enjoy!


    1. Thank you, Avery! I'm sorry we're missing you this year, but I hope we can return. The conference is close to New York, and that makes it easier on us. Have a wonderful week!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  4. What fun. Wish I could be at Murder 203!

    Your custard looks yummy. I made warm chocolate pudding this week (okay, with 0% milk) and it was such a wonderful indulgence.

    ~ Krista

    1. I wish you could, too! Marc and I hope to see you there another year. And warm chocolate pudding always makes me happy, happy. You've got me craving that now!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  5. My mom, the lovely Henrietta always made custard for us when we were children. It was a wonderful treat to come in from our skating pond (It wasn't really a pond...just a cool rink my dad and big brother made for us) and that smell would hit me in the face!! Oh what lovely memories...Henrietta, Big Jim and now big brother David are gone so tonight I might just make some custard and lift a spoon to all the memories they share with me. Thanks for the pictorial tutorial as well...that always helps :-)

    Nanc...who is skating in her head today and wishing she could skate to CT!!

    1. Nanc - I'm so glad to hear that this post brought back good memories for you. Custard is such a simple thing, but then simple things made right with fresh ingredients are often the most memorable. When they're made with love, there's nothing better.

      Stay warm, Nanc, and eat with joy!
      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  6. I love custard but can't have eggs that often. High cholesterol :(... Have you ever tried it with Egg Substitute?

    I am going to try this using the substitute.. I am sure I will have to make adjustments (maybe)...

    1. BusyMom (Shawn) - Not sure it will work, but if you try it, I'd love to know what you think (good or bad)...always a pleasure to see you in our Kitchen, Shawn, thanks so much for dropping in today.

      Have a wonderful week,
      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  7. Cleo,

    This was so funny because the only thing I can eat right now is egg custard and I have been sending my Mom to the deli every day to buy them! I am too sick to keep food down and I need something to coat my stomach for my medications so the doctor recommended the egg custard. Now that we have a recipe maybe we can try to make them at home and save some money and time! You are a lifesaver!

    I am praying that I will be well enough to come to Murder 203 and meet you and Marc in person. Since things are dicey with health I didn't pre-register, but as long as I am able to physically I intend to come. I hope to see you there.


  8. Your egg custard looks absolutely delicious! My husband and I love a good egg custard - have you ever made it with half and half? Do you think it would work with extra large eggs? I'm looking to use the ingredients I normally have on hand and not have to make a special trip to the store. Thanks!

  9. My family loves egg custard by itself but my Nannie made a pie with dried peaches (cooked and mashed) which she placed on pie crust first then poured the egg custard on top. The tartness of the peaches and the sweet egg custard was awesome. All the women in our family have tried to reproduce but with no luck. When you eat a piece you get happy feet. lol
    I am going to try your receipe and directions to see if this will be the magic touch. Thanks

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  10. Veramente golose!!! complimenti