As I was listing the variations recently, Kevin humoured me and asked questions about what made them different. During his 20 or so years in the USA, he had enjoyed all of them except the egg custard. He had heard of, but not had, the egg tarts famous in Hong Kong (likely from British or Portuguese influence), but they weren't exactly the same thing anyway having a bit less egg and a pastry crust.
So I thought for his Valentine's Day dinner, egg custard cups he should have. And of course, hanging out in the back of my cupboard was a set of heart shaped ramekins I had used on a Valentine's Day long ago to make crème brulée (for a prior romance... so you know how long it's been since I've used these ramekins!)
As I remembered it, preparation of the dish was pretty simple. But I decided to check a few online recipes anyway. I was actually amazed that there were not that many recipes out there for a true egg custard. So after perusing a few, I came up with the following which worked quite well. It provides for a nice 'eggy' flavor and won't be confused with crème brulée. If your love hasn't had this dish, isn't it time you gave him/her a little holiday treat?
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 eggs (large whole)
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup sugar (or a little more if you like it more sweet)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (plus a vanilla bean if you are so inclined)
- dash ground nutmeg (or freshly grated if you have it)
In a saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer stirring constantly ensuring it does not boil or scorch. If you wish to use the vanilla pod, slice it length-wise, strip out of the tiny sides from the inside. Place the seeds and the pod into the milk.
Pour the hot water around the empty ramekins, until it is half way up the sides of the dishes. Remove the sieve with the solids, and pour the mixture into the ramekins. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the custard is set. If it is a little loose in the center it will still be fine.
Remove from the oven and let the custard stand in the water bath for two hours before serving. It may be served at room temperature at this stage, or if you prefer it can be covered and refrigerated and served at a later time.