A custard is one of the simplest dessert you can make but one of the most delicious. Everybody here knows my passion for "creamy texture" and nothing like a custard to satisfy my cravings. This is not the recipe I used to make when I was a kid, along the years I learned a little bit more, heard other's recipes and finally found the perfect combination for a perfect custard.
Recently I was watching one of Louis CK show and he said something really interesting about how people tend to use exaggerated words for small things, like "that guy is hilarious" when all they meant was that the guy is kind of funny. Well said but I am going to make a true statement here: THIS CUSTARD IS PERFECT and not like "this custard is kind of perfect", no, it is per-fec-ti-on! Most custards are made with similar ingredients, milk, condensed milk, eggs and maybe something else and this is basically what mine is made of as well but the ratio and the technique to bake it is really what changes from recipe to recipe (if you want to learn the story on how I got this recipe read the last paragrapher).
Caramel, oh-so-caramel, don't tell me you are one of those who are scared of this poor creature. There are very simple science in a caramel: sugar melts, water evaporates, sugar can crystalize and sugar burns.
There are 2 ways to melt your sugar, dry or wet, when you dry melt it, it melts fast since there is no water to evaporate, it avoids crystallization since the sugar doesn't splash on the sides of the pan but it also achieves a high temperature much faster burning it easily. The wet process is when you add water to the sugar and wait until it comes to a boil brushing down the sides of the pan. This process is safer but longer since all the water has to evaporate before sugar starts to get color and it is also more laborious cause you have to keep brushing down the sides of the pan with water until no more syrup splashes otherwise it starts a crystallization process and your entire pan of caramel will become a hard rock.
The best way to keep track of your sugar is your own eye, the only time I tried using a candy thermometer for caramel was on Masterchef which I was under pressure and the stupid thermomether was broken and I ended up almost burning it, after that day I promised to myself that I would never use one again! You just have to watch the color and if needed you can test the consistency dipping a little amount of it in cold water. For the Caramel, once you see a dark amber color you remove from heat immediately.
In Brazil the caramel custard is called Pudim and it is one of the most popular desserts found at everybody's table mostly because it's an easy dessert but very satisfying. The bain-marie baking method gives it a little finesse that we expect from desserts without being too fancy and since this custard is rich and sweet I like to pare it with fruits and the recipe for macerate strawberries is great and simple, which keeps the integrity of the berry but adds a great vanilla and peppercorn flavor to it. Try using this recipe in different desserts and you will be surprised how great it makes everything taste.
Preheat oven at 350F
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
6 whole eggs
750ml whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup of water
2 cups clean strawberries
1 cup confectionary sugar
1 cup water
1/4 vanilla bean and seeds
4 crushed black peppercorn (crush it with the back of your knife)
I'm gonna share here the story behind this recipe, my mother in law is a super outgoing and positive person and she thought she had an amazing custard recipe until one day she went to a restaurant and after lunch she ordered caramel custard. The custard was so unbelievable amazing that she was totally surprised thinking that she would never be able to reproduce that perfection just when she looks at the shelves of the restaurant and sees that they have a recipe book. She asks the waitress to bring her one justifying that she was interested in buying it but all she wanted was to see if that recipe was there and it was! She couldn't believe it, it was so simple but the small differences from her recipe was actually making a big difference overall. She secretly wrote the recipe down in a napkin without anybody seeing and since it had only 5 ingredients it was fast, she kept the napkin in her purse and gave the book back to the waitress.
Since that day our custards were never the same and thank to the courage and boldface of my mother in law that's why she is the best!