We’re kind of an accordion when it comes to eggs. Some weeks I have to fight my husband for just 2 eggs so I can bake something. Other weeks I feel like we’re drowning in eggs.
Last Friday, my son had the day off from school. There were a bunch of fires in the general area, so, due to poor air quality, the school district closed all schools in the area. Now, I enjoy having my kids home with me, but my husband now has a very demanding job, meaning I have longer days with the kids and my son going to school really gives me the only chance I get to focus on my daughter. They’d also been messy little monkeys all week, so I was desperate to find ways to keep them occupied. Enter kitchen time.
My kids love being in the kitchen with me when I bake. I think it’s kind of a toss up between whether they enjoy the chocolate I usually give them or the fact that they just love sitting on the counter. Whatever the reason, they both jumped up and ran with me to the kitchen when I asked who wanted to bake with me. Eggs, cups, and scale on the counter. One kid on one side. The other kid on the other side. Stern directions to not touch the eggs. And to please be silent for a minute so I could focus on separating some eggs.
What was I baking? Well, I wasn’t actually baking anything. There’s a ratio for custard that looks simple enough. I’ve been meaning to try out making pies and tarts and thought a custard filling might be nice. After spending the day before doing some research on how to make a custard, I felt ready to try it. I’ve never made custard before, but I have some idea of what it is.
The ratio for a solid custard base in 2:1 dairy to eggs. For a savory custard, this works fine. A sweeter one would require an addition of sugar. I don’t know how much yet. Custard can also be thickened with gelatin or cornstarch. I haven’t tried that yet.
So, what did I do? Well, I know dairy usually refers to milk or cream, but I happened to have a can of sweetened condensed milk that had been sitting in the cabinet for probably too long. I thought it couldn’t possibly be too bad.
First, I separated some eggs because I learned there are two kids of custard: baked and stirred. The stirred custards typically use only yolks, so I needed to separate my eggs as that’s what I decided to try first. That done, I measured out the sweetened condensed milk to be twice the weight of the eggs.
After that, my kids abandoned me. Which was well and good considering I now needed to use the stove. I didn’t want to pour everything into a pot, so I set up a double boiler with my small mixing bowl sitting on top of a pot with about an inch of water.
So, custard needs to be stirred constantly. That’s a little hard with little ones running around. My custard did see the damage as I had to run and find my daughter’s beloved lovey and then I needed to sit her on a nearby counter. It was a little lumpy.
Sweetened condensed milk is thick to begin with. It made the custard look like it was done already, but I was skeptical. Since I already didn’t know what I was doing, I figured cooking it a little longer wouldn’t hurt. I’m glad I did. It loosened and then thickened again. And then thickened some more. I probably should have taken it off the heat well before I actually did. Oh, and one way to check if it’s done, according to a recipe I read, is to coat the back of you spoon with the custard and then run your finger down it. If it stays parted, it’s done. But don’t do it that way. My finger felt a little burned for a while. Yes, yes, I probably should have been smarter about that. See? That’s why I don’t like using recipes any more. Well, one reason, anyways. They’re not always perfectly on point.
Anyways, I took it off the heat, whisked in some cocoa powder (because everything is better with chocolate), covered it with plastic wrap, and stuck it in the fridge. A couple of hours later, I checked it and found it was really thick, but still tasted good. I probably shouldn’t have used sweetened condensed milk, but at least I didn’t have to worry about how much sugar to add.
In the end, I made something custard-like. I have my doubts as to whether it would be a custard, but at least I have a better idea of what to do next time. And, next time, I’ll probably stick to milk or heavy cream. Though the can of evaporated milk does look tempting… Someone please stop me.