I love a good food story from friends and readers. My friend, co-worker, and great cook, Veanna Roberson, tells me her family cannot imagine a Christmas without boiled custard. It is anticipated by the entire Roberson family every year.
This heirloom recipe has been handed down in Veanna’s husband’s family for generations. He remembers his grandmother making this every Christmas, and even freezing it in ice trays as a treat for the kids. His mother took over the tradition, and now it has become an annual Christmas tradition for Veanna to serve the boiled custard each and every Christmas season.
Boiled custard is considered to be a liquid dessert. It is also known as “drinking" custard. It resembles the base for eggnog but without the “nog” so it's family-friendly and very festive.
Interestingly, boiled custard is not actually boiled. The name is tricky, in that if the mixture is boiled, it will curdle. The recipe simply calls to bring the temperature of the milk mixture to a scald by slowly heating it until steams comes from the pan.
Boiled custard has been around for centuries and came to the U.S. from England. Variations of this recipe have been passed down in many families, just as it has been in the Roberson family.
1 quart milk, plus more to top off the pitcher
2 ¾ cups sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 tablespoons flour
Separate eggs and reserve egg whites for later use. Whisk together eggs yolks, 1 quart milk, sugar, vanilla, flour and salt. Cook in large saucepan or stockpot over medium heat to scald. Stir often and do not let boil.
Beat egg whites into stiff peaks with mixer. When the milk mixture begins to steam, it is at a scald stage. Add the egg whites a little at a time and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until you see steam coming from the mixture again.
Pour into a pitcher and add enough milk to make a gallon. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 8 to 10 servings. Top with a sprinkling of fresh nutmeg and/or fresh whipped cream, if desired.