Baked Vanilla Custard With Nutmeg: A Last Minute Holiday Dessert

Last Saturday afternoon, I was trying to come up with an idea for a festive Holiday dessert. After looking through my new cookbook, I realized that I neither had the time nor the ingredients to bake, cool, and decorate a cake for dessert that evening. So, I kept flipping through the pages, when I stumbled upon the “Custards” section.

As I began reading, I was surprised at how few ingredients custard requires: eggs, sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla. I was also surprised by how easy it looked to make this creamy and decadent dessert. I had always placed custard in the fancy dessert category.   What I also never realized, was that depending on how these basic ingredients are used, there are so many different desserts that you can create. For example, by cooking egg yolks and cream in a saucepan, you can create custard sauce, or crème anglaise.   I used to have crème anglaise poured over desserts when I lived in France. It was such a delicious treat, that I never imagined I could recreate it so easily with the ingredients I already had in my refrigerator.    There is also “rich” custard, used in dishes like crème caramel, which also uses eggs and cream. My mom used to make crème caramel for us for special occasions when we were kids.

For my first attempt at custard, I decided to give the basic recipe a try. This recipe called for whole eggs and whole milk, which made the assembly very simple. My daughter and I mixed the ingredients together in just a few minutes. Then we baked the custard cups in the oven, and chilled them in the fridge in time for dessert that night.

Our last minute Baked Vanilla Custard with a dusting of nutmeg turned out to be a deceivingly fancy success. The mild and creamy vanilla flavor with a sprinkle of warm and spicy nutmeg made for a perfect Holiday dessert.

Happy Holidays and enjoy!

Recipe Source: Joy of  Cooking 75th Anniversary Edition


Baked Vanilla Custard With Nutmeg

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 40-60 mins
Yields: 5


  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup - Sugar
  • 1/8 Teaspoon - Salt
  • 2 Cups - Milk
  • 3/4 Teaspoon - Vanilla
  • Ground Nutmeg to sprinkle on top


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  2. Whisk eggs, sugar, and salt, in a medium bowl just until blended
  3. Heat the milk in a small saucepan just until steaming
  4. Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture, and stir gently until the sugar is dissolved. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl with a spout. Then stir in vanilla. Pour into five 6-ounce ramekins and dust with ground nutmeg
  5. Bake the Custard cups in a “bain-marie,” or water bath. Bain-marie: Place ramekins in a large baking dish. Fill the dish with scalding-hot water, about 1/2 way up the sides of the custard cups. Bake for about 40-60 minutes until set but still quivery in the center. I baked mine for 45 minutes, and they came out perfect. Remove from water bath and let cool for 30 minutes
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold

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