Attempts to make custard

This weekend, I wanted to try making custard. My parents have a sous vide machine. They’re good for making custard because they can get food to a very even temperature and never overheat it.

The first batch I based on the recipe my mom uses for making crème brûlée with the sous vide. I like the consistency of crème brûlée custard a lot, so it seemed like a good starting point. I wanted it to have a low-sweetness, dark chocolate sort of flavor.* We used cocoa powder for the chocolate, just guessing on the amount. After it was cooked, thought it would be fun to chill it by putting it in a snow bank.

A jar of chocolate custard sitting in a snow bank
This is the second batch. I was looking forward to this being the best custard ever made and to sharing my “gome custard” recipe with you on here.

This first batch turned out pretty good. I thought the consistency was a little thinner than what I wanted, and the chocolate flavor didn’t come through quite as much as I was hoping. I think the stage we introduced the cocoa at caused it to clump up a little bit, and then those clumps got filtered out during the straining step. So we probably needed more cocoa and needed to introduce it later. But in general, this batch was some great custard. The lower sweetness worked just fine, and even with a light chocolate flavor, great custard is still great custard.

For the second batch, I got the bright idea of trying to add rosemary. Infusing the cream with rosemary was actually pretty fun. I like sitting over a pot and keeping it stirring.

We tried several tweaks to the recipe for this one, including a higher egg-to-cream ratio and a slightly higher cooking temperature, both in the hopes of a slightly thicker texture. We also used melted chocolate chips for the chocolate.

My mom tried to warn me against making too many adjustments at once, suggesting I find a recipe to follow specifically for rosemary-chocolate custard or pudding. My rationale for freestyling it was that I wanted to learn how to get exactly the custard I wanted, which could only be achieved through some trial and error.

This batch was definitely the error side of that achievement. The rosemary was significantly stronger than the chocolate, which was not a good balance, especially when you account for the fact that I accidentally added twice as much salt. The chocolate still came out weak, and this time, the sweetness was almost completely gone (I had decreased the sugar added to account for the chocolate chips, but the move was naively executed).

In the end, I had fun making custard both times, and I feel like I have some valuable lessons to bring forward with me next time. I don’t want to give up experimenting, because I really do think it helps develop my general “cook’s sense”. But next time I make custard, I’ll probably reference a recipe.

Have you made custard before? Have you experimented with the recipe before? Have you made mistakes cooking? Let me know your thoughts at my Ctrl-C email: gome ​@ ​

* In retrospect, trying to get a dish with milk as the main ingredient to have a “dark chocolate flavor” was not the best-formed concept.