Some 20 egg custards later, I finally have the perfect egg custard recipe. I'm feeling generous, so here it is.
Let's first talk about what a perfect egg custard is.
1. It has a buttery flakey crust that's as soft as the custard inside
2. The custard is a bubble-less creamy pudding of sweet eggy goodness.
3. It is so delicate and soft, that if you try to pick it up like an oaf, you will crush it with your savagery.
4. It is heavenly right out of the oven.
The egg custard has 2 parts. The crust and the filling. I really like puff pastry crusts, which are too involved to make as often as I'd like to eat egg custards, so I just buy the puff pastry.
Filling for at least a dozen egg tarts:
7 tablespoons of sugar
1 cup of water
2/3 cup of evaporated milk/whole milk/coconut milk
splash of vanilla extract.
Mix the sugar and water, and heat on the stove to dissolve the sugar. Then let cool.
Beat the eggs, then skim off the bubbles with a spoon. It's *really* important to remove as many bubbles as possible.
Then mix the now not-hot sugar water, milk, and eggs together, and run it through a sieve. The water just needs to be cool enough to dip your finger in, so that you don't cook the eggs prematurely. The sieve will catch any egg pieces that weren't completely incorporated into the mixture.
*Secret 1* Now, you let this sit while all the tiny bubbles rise to the top. You can leave this covered in the fridge overnight for a couple of days. Then you would have even fewer bubbles, and not have bubbles is half of the trick to getting a perfectly smooth and silky custard.
Puff pastry takes forever to make, so I just bought some. I cut them into smaller pieces, so that I can defrost in parts. Here are two chunks that I've defrosted according to the instructions on the box.
I got cute little tart tins because sometimes appearances do matter.
Roll out the pastry dough with some flour. Remember that the layers are already built in, so don't scrunch it up. Make sure that it's big enough for the tart tin by rolling the tin around a little to make sure that the dough would go all the way to the edges.
The only round thing that I had of the right size was this unwieldy mug.
Press the dough in gently. I was able to make some extras with the scraps! Those tarts are probably not going to come out too pretty...
*Secret 2* Bake *just the crust* for 10-15 minutes at 425 degrees while weighed down with something heavy. I double weighted some of them because I only have so many shot glasses. Next time I visit the great outdoors, I think I'll find some nice rocks for this purpose.
Let them cool. The bottom rose a little too much because my shot glasses weren't the right size, so I just gently flattened the pastry on the bottom so that I can fill it with more custard. Don't poke a hole through the bottom. That would be sad.
Open the oven and let the temperature go down to 300 degrees.
Fill them up! This picture is actually from one of my failed experiments where I didn't cook the crust first. I ended up overcooking the egg and it was all ugly and plastic-y. To make this right, fill in the egg AFTER the crust is cooked and browned.
*Secret 3* Bake at 300 degrees for 20-30 minutes. I tap the tins lightly with a spoon to see if it jiggles. If the custard doesn't jiggle, then it's done. The amount of time the cooking takes really depends on the size of the custard.
Cooking the egg at too high a temperature would introduce large bubbles to the custard and make it puff up. It would make the very outside taste like plastic, and the inside more of a sponge than a custard.
The tarts will look something like this! If it's perfectly bubble-less, it will look like the first picture. In the 2nd picture are some tarts that were a little contaminated with bubbles. They don't have that perfect glossy veneer or the convex meniscus.
The tarts should pop right out of the tins.
I'd be lying to you if I couldn't cut this baby up and show you the beautiful interior. And here it is. So good.
Obviously this is very involved. So I make a massive version in a ramekin with scraps of puff pastry floating in the custard. It doesn't taste quite as nice, because the bigger ramekin changes the puff pastry to custard ratio, but sometimes I can't handle delayed gratification.