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Old-Fashioned Egg Custard

From South Cumberland Farmer's Market

<p>Baked custard is the ultimate healthy &#8220;comfort food.&#8221; If you&#8217;ve never had an egg custard made with fresh, free-range eggs, you&#8217;re in for a real treat! I can eat them any time of day, and like to keep a few on hand in the fridge. It&#8217;s a great dessert with a dollop of whipped cream, or a fast healthy breakfast on the go. This custard can be made with half and half or even heavy cream instead of milk, which will give you more of a Creme Brulee&#8230; if desired you can add a tablespoon of sugar to the top and carmelize with a torch, but I love it as is.</p>
Source: This is an old favorite... flavoring variations are endless. (Entered by Stephen Eichler)
Serves: Makes about six 6 oz. servings.

4-6 eggs number depends on size
1/2 cup sugar granulated
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups milk preferably whole, very hot but not boiling
pinch spice nutmeg and/or cinnamon

Step by Step Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust oven rack to center position. Place a pot of water on the stove to heat to boiling while you are preparing the custard. Lightly butter (or use non-fat spray) six 6 oz. ramekins or custard cups and set them into a large baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs slightly, add sugar, vanilla, and salt and then beat until dissolved. Mix in hot milk until completely blended. Pour mixture into prepared custard cups and sprinkle the tops with nutmeg and/or cinnamon. Carefully pour the hot water into the baking pan so that it surrounds the custard cups and comes at least half way up the sides of the cups. Ideally, the water should come up to the level inside the cups.
  3. Bake 30 minutes or until set around the edges but slightly jiggly in the center when shaken. Remove immediately from the oven and the water bath, cool on wire rack to room temperature then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Will keep several days in the fridge. Enjoy!!!
  4. Just for information, water baths are used for egg-based dishes because the proteins in eggs are very heat sensitive and only need to be warmed to cook thoroughly. They will start to get firm at only 145 degrees. Cooking them with a slow, gentle heat keeps the custard soft and smooth.