Everyone should have a simple stirred custard recipe handy. In America we call this sort of cornstarch-thickened mixture “pudding.” It’s terrific for eating just as it is, but it can also be used as a thick sauce for, well, whatever. This recipe is sort of a “pastry cream light.” It’s not as sweet as most pastry creams, nor as rich in cream or egg yolks, but it does have a dab of butter for sheen.
It’s quick, it’s easy and it tastes great when you have a cold (as I do today). The ingredients are:
1.75 ounces (1/4 cup) sugar
1.25 ounces (2 tablespoons, 2 teaspoons) cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 ounces (2 cups) whole milk
2 egg yolks
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Start by combining the dry ingredients in a small saucepan. Whisk them together. The littler the whisk, the better.
Pour in the milk…
…whisk it all together thoroughly, checking the corners of the pan to make sure there’s no clumped-up starch hiding there. Put the pan over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil. It’ll thicken noticeably.
Pour about a third of the mixture over your egg yolks to temper them (i.e. gently bring them up to temperature)…
…whisk, and pour the whole mess back into the saucepan.
Bring the mixture back to a simmer for about twenty seconds, then remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the butter…
…pour in a little vanilla extract…
…and you’re done! Pour the custard (pudding) into serving cups if that’s how you intend to present it.
Otherwise transfer the custard to a bowl and let it cool down for at least half an hour, stirring every so often to keep it smooth. Chill it and serve to eager children (of all ages).