Fresh, juicy strawberries at the peak of the season are best served in simple desserts that celebrate their natural sweetness and nuanced tart undertones. If you are looking for the perfect summer dessert try Strawberry Custard. This classic soft custard has the consistency of a rich cream, and is heavenly when spooned over luscious sliced strawberries.
Here’s the original recipe, in a hundred-year-old cookbook:
I found this recipe to be more challenging than I anticipated. The first time I made it, I ended up with a curdled mess. After doing a little research I realized that I’d overcooked the custard. I think that I was picturing that the custard would get firm, like modern puddings – but this custard is quite soft and really a sauce (which probably should have been obvious from the name of the custard recipe, Soft Custard — but, somehow that slipped by me the first time around).
The second batch, I watched like a hawk when I cooked it, and removed the custard from the heat the instant the hot liquid coated the spoon that I was using to stir it. This time the custard turned out perfectly.
Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks.
Strawberry Soft Custard
2 cups milk
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Put the milk in a sauce pan (use a double boiler, if available), and using medium heat, scald the milk. This is done by stirring the milk continuously until steam begins to rise from the milk and small bubbles form along the sides of the pan. (Do not allow the milk to boil). Remove from the heat.
In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and salt; beat until the mixture is smooth and lemon-colored. While continuing to beat, slowly pour the scalded milk into the mixture. (It is important not to add too much milk at a time since the hot milk could cook the eggs into scrambled egg clumps.)
Return the mixture to the sauce pan that was used for scalding the milk. Using medium heat, heat the mixture while stirring constantly. As soon as the mixture coats the spoon, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Put the hot custard into a bowl and refrigerate until cold.
To serve, put sliced strawberries in a serving bowl or dessert dish; spoon the desired amount of custard over the strawberries and serve.
The original recipe calls for using only 1 cup of strawberries. For modern tastes, this recipe needs to be adjusted so that each serving lots of strawberries, so I didn’t specify the amount of strawberries.