Okay, foodies...why won't my custard set?

Four egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar. Beat until yolks are foamy/pale yellow, etc. Slowly add in the heated whole milk and heavy cream, etc etc etc.

30 minutes later, an extra yolk, and corn starch and NOTHING.

I am very saddened by this. However, I have made this recipe three times and each time it NEVER thickens, so I am wondering if it's NOT me, and it's the recipe.
Four egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar. Beat until yolks are foamy/pale yellow, etc. Slowly add in the heated whole milk and heavy cream, etc etc etc.

30 minutes later, an extra yolk, and corn starch and NOTHING.

I am very saddened by this. However, I have made this recipe three times and each time it NEVER thickens, so I am wondering if it's NOT me, and it's the recipe.
Originally Posted by M2LR
When I've made custards like that they thicken a tiny bit when cooked (like just enough to coat a spoon), but they really thicken and turn custardy only after chilling. What is the recipe? What does it say exactly?
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Four egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar. Beat until yolks are foamy/pale yellow, etc. Slowly add in the heated whole milk and heavy cream, etc etc etc.

30 minutes later, an extra yolk, and corn starch and NOTHING.

I am very saddened by this. However, I have made this recipe three times and each time it NEVER thickens, so I am wondering if it's NOT me, and it's the recipe.
Originally Posted by M2LR


Um...I don't mean to be flip...but did you cook it?
I don't know if you were making a baked custard or just an Anglaise. That sounds like an Anglaise, which doesn't set like pastry cream. After you tempered in the milk and cream, you have to cook it to around 175-180 degrees, enough to coat the back of a spoon. It's still a liquid custard though. You can chill it and it will thicken more, and you could actually whip it as well. If you were making a pastry cream (to which you add starch), you again have to make sure that after you temper you cook it further. The pastry cream has to reach a boil to cook out the raw starch and to thicken properly. It will thicken more as it cools.
If you bake it, it would be a cup custard since that's basically a pot de creme type of fat ratio. You can't unmold pot de creme or creme brulee because they contain too much fat and don't set the way a leaner custard like flan/creme caramel (more whole eggs and milk, no cream) would.

By the way, 30 minutes isn't really enough time for it to cool and thicken. Even though it thickens quite a bit when you take it off the heat and right on top of your ice bath, it will thicken more later.

Last edited by Saria; 03-25-2011 at 10:20 PM.
Sorry I didn't post sooner, here is the recipe, I've bolded the custard instructions.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)
  • 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, crushed, for garnish
Directions

In a saucepan combine the milk, cream, and 1/2 cup sugar over medium heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whip the egg yolks with the remaining sugar using an electric mixer until the eggs have become thick and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Pour 1/2 cup of the warm milk and cream mixture into the egg mixture and stir. Add this mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Place a strainer over a medium bowl and pour the warm custard mixture through the strainer. Stir in the vanilla and hazelnut spread until it dissolves. Chill mixture completely before pouring into an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions to freeze. To serve, scoop gelato into serving bowls and top with hazelnuts.
Saria, it was Anglaise for a gelato.

The only thing I can think is that I didn't beat the yolks enough, but I thought they were pretty thick and pale yellow. I heated it on the stove above the 'very low' heat as the directions recommend, since I thought maybe it wasn't hot enough.

It was still pretty liquid, pretty much like the cream/milk mixture. In the fridge it thickened slightly, but still not as much as the recipe says.

It tastes fine though, and everyone loved the gelato, so I am assuming it didn't do TOO much to the taste. I am disappointed though, I really just wanted it to work this time!
Dumb question, but are you sure you used heavy cream and not half and half? I only say that because I'm currently using up as much of a quart of half and half as I can because I grabbed that instead of whole milk when I bought stuff for mac and cheese. I swear they must have been right next to each other and in similarly colored cartons!

I don't know if it makes a difference with yolks or just whites, but were they cold or room temperature? I always let egg whites and whole eggs warm up on the counter before I use them.

That recipe isn't too complicated so I can't imagine what else it could be. If it is the temperature that you're heating the liquid to, you can check that pretty easily with a candy thermometer.
Dumb question, but are you sure you used heavy cream and not half and half? I only say that because I'm currently using up as much of a quart of half and half as I can because I grabbed that instead of whole milk when I bought stuff for mac and cheese. I swear they must have been right next to each other and in similarly colored cartons!

I don't know if it makes a difference with yolks or just whites, but were they cold or room temperature? I always let egg whites and whole eggs warm up on the counter before I use them.

That recipe isn't too complicated so I can't imagine what else it could be. If it is the temperature that you're heating the liquid to, you can check that pretty easily with a candy thermometer.
Originally Posted by mrspoppers
It was heavy cream. I went to the store just for this stuff, and I bought the smaller thing of heavy cream, the half and half in the fridge is the larger carton.

My eggs were kind of cold, not room temp, so maybe that was it.

Next time I will whip out the thermometer and see if that's what it is, and I will beat the eggs a little longer, too.

Thanks everyone! I am determined to get this custard thing right!!!
It's not supposed to set though. Anglaise is liquid custard. You should make it a day ahead if you can because the colder it is, the better the texture of the ice cream. It will thicken more overnight. But even at its thickest, it will look like this, and it's usually thinner for ice cream than for something like a trifle:


The only temperature that really makes a difference in how thick your custard is is the 175-180 that your custard should reach.

Last edited by Saria; 03-27-2011 at 11:00 AM.
By the way, once you've made a custard and chilled it, you'd have to heat it back up to work in something like cornstarch and bring it to a boil to cook it out. That's definitely not the best thing for the flavor of a custard.
Thanks Saria!

I will keep this in mind for next time.

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