Servings: 4 Prep: 15 mins Cook: 1 hr Total: 1 hr 15 mins
This is a funny one, stemming from a bout of laziness.
It can’t be a secret that I love, and make, ice cream quite often. For the past decade, a little cup of ice cream has punctuated the end of nearing every single day. And, as much as I love churning it, some of the time, there’s something better on the TV. I get drawn to the boob-tube in mid cook.
This is just such a story.
I had been making one of my favorite flavors of ice cream (Spiced Caramel Apple Ice Cream with Walnut Streusel). The process for this flavor involves cutting apples into cubes, then sautéing them in butter, all while hitting the hot pan with dusty poofs of sweet and spice. I’d caramelized my batch of apples, and they were sitting in the refrigerator cooling off. While the apples chilled, I wandered over to the TV to see what’s doin’, sat down, and found myself transfixed. I still wanted ice cream, but my eyelids were heavy and my rear stuck to the couch. I was no longer in the mood to set up a double boiler and listen to the loud sound of my ice cream machine. But! I had a bunch of sweet, spiced apples. Hmmmm…
Custard! Same ingredients, but much less clutter and noise!
This is an incredibly simple dessert. It’s rooted in little more than a ratio of 1 cup (240mL) milk, 1 egg, and 2 Tbsp (30mL) sugar. That’s it! Just those 3 ingredients. This is whisked together, poured into a cup or bowl, then lightly baked in a water bath. It almost couldn’t be easier!
Now, obviously, we’re going to swap out the sugar. I mean, who really needs that stuff, amiright?!
Next, many low-carbers and keto’ers tend to boost their fat, increasing the satiety of their foods (no cravings… huzzah!). So, rather than milk, I use a blend of 2/3rds heavy cream and 1/3rd unsweetened almond milk. I could use pure heavy cream, but some kind of weird historical or cultural tug prevents me from doing it, even though I know it’s ok. In all cases, the more fat… the creamier the result!
Let’s not forget the egg. Eggs are fantastic and merits a mention. EGG!
Those are the simple tweaks to my custard. A simple ratio and a simple method.
In the case of this specific recipe, I poured about 3/4 cup (180mL) of my sweetened egg base into my little oven-proof cups. I then sprinkled some of my chilled apple chunks into the cups. Then I sprinkled a bit of sweetener and almond flour on the top, simply to give it some more texture. I baked in a water bath for about 45 minutes, then enjoyed my warm dessert. The rest chilled in the fridge, to be wrapped and enjoyed over the coming nights.
This has become a new favorite.
I’ve been tinkering with the format.
Here’s one where I used 3 eggs, 2 cups (480mL) of cream, 2 bananas, and a 1/4 cup (60mL) of sweetener.
These bowls are way too big for dessert, but I was testing the waters. Delicious! Lately, I’ve been pureeing the banana custard mixture in a blender before baking… it’s just that much smoother!
Another night, I was thinking about a strawberry flavored custard. I had a jar of sugar-free strawberry jelly. I whisked that with some eggs and cream, then water-bath baked it. Yikes! It refused to set. So many sugar-free store-bought products have weirdnessess (thickeners, emulsifiers, extenders, etc.) within them, which caused my dessert to misbehave. Sadly, this is so often the case with packaged foods…
I mean, obviously I ate it, but it was more like a bowl of thick, pink soup. Not my finest moment.
My point? The core, root ratio is simple and versatile. It can be used in a variety of ways, resulting in a whole array of taste and textural sensations. Add some cocoa powder for a chocolate flavor. I did wind up making a great one with actual pureed strawberries, in place of the almond milk. Tasted great but needed more strawberry flavor. I later cooked the strawberries in sweetener and vanilla, until thick. That worked great! Substitute the almond milk for some pumpkin puree, and a dash of pumpkin pie spice. Yum! Go tropical and dairy free by swapping out the cream for coconut milk!
While I wouldn’t suggest any acidic fruits, like citrus, nuts would be a great addition. Top with some streusel if you’d like.
The end result is a decadent, smooth, and creamy dessert; delicious hot or cold. I usually make enough for about 3 days and enjoy them within that timeframe. They won’t freeze well, but they refrigerate quite nicely.
Tinker with the base, make your own flavors… and enjoy!
Baked Spiced Apple CustardPrint Pin Rate
- Pre-heat oven to 325°F (163°C).
- Put a small pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. You need enough water to fill the bottom half of a casserole pan.
- Pre-heat a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat.
- While the pan is heating, cut the apple into small 1/4-inch (1/2cm) cubes. Peeling it is optional (I rarely do).
- Once the pan is hot, add the butter and quickly swirl it around the pan. It should lightly brown around the edges, but not burn. Quickly add the apple cubes and toss, to coat with the butter. Turn the heat to medium.
- Evenly distribute the apple bits along the bottom of the pan, so that a single layer of apple cubes is formed.
- Sprinkle about 1 Tbsp (15mL) of the sweetener over the apples, along with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and a dash of salt.
- After about 1 minute, one side of the cubes will take on a nice, caramelized color. Toss the apples, so that most have a new side facing down. Allow them to sit for about 1 minute. Continue cooking and tossing until they are nicely browned on the outside, but not overcooked, soft and mushy. The process should be fairly quick, taking about 3 minutes. Place the browned apple cubes in a plate to cool. Place in the refrigerator.
- Whisk together the eggs, cream, almond milk, 2 Tbsp (30mL) of the sweetener, and a dash of salt. Whisk well.
- Divide the egg mixture between four 8-oz (240mL) ramekins, small, oven-proof bowls, coffee cups, etc. Just make sure you use something ceramic.
- Divide the apples between the 4 containers, breaking up the pieces and plopping them into the egg mixture. It’s ok if the apple bits aren’t thoroughly chilled. We just don’t want them so hot that they instantly cook the custard base. Warm is fine.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1 Tbsp (15mL) of the sweetener, and almond flour over the top of the 4 containers.
- Pour the hot water into a casserole pan large enough to hold the 4 cups. Fill the pan about halfway. Add the 4 cups to the casserole pan. The hot water should come up to about the halfway point on each of your cups or bowls. Add a bit more, if it needs it.
- Very carefully, transfer the pan into the oven. Depending on the shape and depth of your cups, this may take between 45 and 75 minutes. The cups I use take about 45 minutes. Just jiggle the tray. If the center of the custard looks extra jiggly, give it another 10 minutes. Keep checking until the center of each custard jiggles very little. It’s pretty obvious when they’re ready.
- Remove from the oven and remove from the hot water. Set them on a towel on the countertop to rest for about 10 minutes. Serve hot, or chill. I personally will eat one, then chill the remaining 3 in the refrigerator, on a towel lined shelf. Once thoroughly chilled, I wrap them in plastic and enjoy over the coming 3 days… Wonderful!
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