Rich and Calvin requested a chocolate version of custard when I was testing batches of vanilla custard a few weeks ago. I was perfectly happy with the simple flavors of the vanilla recipe, but they wanted something with more complexity.
I started with the vanilla recipe as a stepping off point. I wanted to add chocolate, but I wasn’t sure what textural issues I would have if I used melted chocolate. When I adapted my vanilla ice cream recipe to make it chocolate, I used cocoa powder with great success. I figured custard wasn’t that different from ice cream, so I decided to go with cocoa powder. Then it was a simple matter of replacing some of the vanilla extract with almond and I had chocolate almond custard.
I wasn’t sure if the cocoa would affect the texture of the custard once it was baked. I was pleased that it didn’t – the custard was still creamy and velvety. It was sweet, without being too sweet, and rich with dark chocolate and almond. I opted not to sprinkle any spices on top to avoid adding any flavors that might compete with the chocolate and almond.
I seem to be on a roll lately, giving you recipes for desserts and then offering you a chocolate version later. I guess there’s nothing wrong with bringing a few more chocolate desserts to the world.
Chocolate Almond Custard
From The Cook’s Life
Makes 4-6 servings
Use any kind of milk you have on hand – the richer the milk, the richer the custard. This is not a sweet dessert. You can increase the sugar to ½ cup if you like, with no other changes to the recipe. Or sprinkle sugar on top when serving for added sweetness and crunch.
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
⅓ cup sugar
¼ cup cocoa
sugar, for serving (optional)
Custard cups or ramekins
9 by 13 inch baking pan, or equivalent
boiling water for a water bath
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot or teakettle of water to a boil and keep hot. Lightly grease 4-6 custard cups or small ramekins. I used 6 ounce custard cups and needed five of them. Place ramekins in a 9 by 13 inch baking pan or other pan large enough to hold them without crowding. Set aside, preferably near the oven.
Heat milk in a 2-3 quart saucepan over medium heat until very hot. The milk will be steaming and there will be bubbles all around the edges when it is hot enough. Don’t let it boil. Stir occasionally at the beginning and more often as it gets hotter. It should take 5-7 minutes to get hot enough, depending on your stove and the size of your pan. The larger the pan, the faster the milk will heat (and the closer you need to watch it).
While milk heats, beat or whisk eggs, extracts and salt together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir cocoa and sugar together well mixed. Add cocoa mixture to egg mixture and beat until sugar is no longer gritty.
When milk is hot, beat it gradually into the egg mixture. Add the hot milk very slowly so you don’t scramble the eggs. When all the milk is mixed in, pour the custard into the prepared ramekins, filling them almost full.
Pour boiling water into the larger pan, trying to get the water to the same level as the custard in the cups. Carefully transfer the filled pan to the oven.
Bake custard 25-30 minutes, or until the centers barely jiggle when you move the pan. Remove the pan from the oven. Remove ramekins from the hot water and place on a rack to cool. When cool, cover and refrigerate. Let custards come to room temperature for a few minutes before serving. Store leftovers in the fridge for two or three days, covered.