Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Grandma's Old Fashioned Boiled Custard Recipe and Eggnog Base

A heirloom recipe, Old Fashioned Boiled "Drinking" Custard, was once used regularly as a simple drink meant to sooth the sick. It's a rich and creamy beverage, just like Grandma used to make, delicious anytime and an excellent base for homemade eggnog.

Old Fashioned Drinking Custard

Looking for the best eggnog recipe? Well, look no further than old fashioned boiled custard, because that is the beginnings of a most excellent eggnog. I'm pretty sure that boiled custard, or "drinking" custard as it was once commonly referred to, is decidedly southern. Not only is it a traditional drink in The South for the holidays, but it was often used to comfort those in the sick bed. I do know one thing for sure, we southerners absolutely do love our custards, and we love them in many forms.

Homemade custard in banana pudding is simply to die for, but I love a good old fashioned custard pie or a simple baked custard myself. Boiled custard is an old timey recipe that you really don't hear much about anymore, but when Mike, one of our Facebook readers brought it up, I knew it was time it found a home here. Essentially, boiled custard is simply the base for eggnog, but minus the alcohol.

Calling it a "boiled" custard is really a misnomer though, since you don't ever want a custard to boil, but rather to cook slowly. It's a very basic cooked custard really, similar to homemade custard for banana pudding, only thinner, but using the same procedure with a double boiler, and frequent, near constant stirring. You'll know that the custard is ready when it coats the back of a spoon and you can drag your finger through the middle, leaving a path. Since it's a drinking custard we strain it for creamy perfection. I use cheesecloth over a kitchen sieve.

Since this is the holiday season, I say go ahead and turn your drinking custard into a full blown eggnog by the simple addition of some liquor, whether by the glass or by the bowl. As always, drink responsibly.  In truth, however, folks have been drinking old fashioned boiled custard without liquor for years. Like all egg custards, boiled custard is just simply heaven in a cup.

Recipe: Old Fashioned Drinking Custard

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 10 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 quart of half and half (or use a 50/50 mixture of heavy cream, whole milk, and/or half and half)
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of all purpose flour
  • 6 egg yolks, reserve egg whites
  • 1 overflowing teaspoon of vanilla, almond, or rum extract, or to taste
  • Whipped cream, to garnish
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to garnish
  • 1/2 to 1 ounce bourbon or rum, per mug, or to taste, optional
{Punch bowl directions below}


Pour cream or milk into the top of a double boiler. In a separate small bowl, whisk the sugar and flour together and when the water begins to boil, whisk the sugar and flour mixture into the milk. Separate the eggs, reserving the egg whites in the refrigerator for another use, or to add to eggnog, if desired. In that same bowl you used for the sugar, beat the egg yolks until lemon colored and thickened. Temper the eggs with a few scoops of the hot milk, adding the milk to the eggs a little at a time, and whisking constantly while adding. Transfer the tempered egg mixture into the hot milk, whisking constantly until fully incorporated.

Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 180 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes. You'll know that the custard is ready when it coats the back of a spoon and you can drag your finger through the middle, leaving a path. Remove from heat and strain through a cheesecloth covered sieve; set aside to cool. Once cooled, stir in your choice of extract flavoring; add nutmeg to taste (I do about 12 passes on a microplane), taste and add additional extract or nutmeg, as desired.

Cover and refrigerate until cold. If desired, just before serving, whip the egg whites separately with a pinch of cream of tartar, until fluffy. Whisk into the cooled custard before pouring into individual mugs. This step can be omitted if desired. Boiled custard can be used as a beverage, with or without a splash of bourbon or rum, and is also excellent over fresh or canned fruit, or when used as a dessert sauce over cake. Should keep about a week in the fridge.

To Prepare Eggnog for a Punch Bowl: Make multiple batches of this recipe, as needed, for the size serving bowl, but prepare each batch individually. Once cooled, add in the extract and nutmeg, and then combine batches together. Use a funnel to transfer into large gallon sized jugs to refrigerate overnight, or several hours until needed.

Just before serving, whip the egg whites separately with a pinch of cream of tartar, until fluffy. Shake the eggnog well, then add to the serving bowl and whisk in choice of alcohol. Drop dollops of whipped cream over the top of the serving bowl, and grate fresh nutmeg on top, if desired.

IMPORTANT: Add a little bit of liquor first to the serving bowl, the total amount will depend on the serving bowl size. If you are doubling this recipe, start with 1/2 cup, then taste before adding more liquor. Generally this doubled boiled custard recipe will take somewhere between 1 and 2 cups of bourbon or rum, or other variations, depending on tastes. Always start with a little, then add more to taste. Add dollops of the whipped egg whites to the serving bowl if desired, and gently fold in. Scoop into mugs and garnish individual mugs with whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg, if desired.

Variations: Can use bourbon, whiskey, or rum each alone, or in combination with sherry, cognac, or brandy, if desired.


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©Deep South Dish
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Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

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Posted by on December 22, 2010
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