A pudding-like dessert made with a sweetened mixture of milk and eggs that can be baked or stirred on stovetop. Two of the most popular and well-known custards are crème caramel and flan. Custards require slow cooking and gentle heat in order to prevent separation (curdling). For this reason, stirred custards are generally made in a double boiler; baked custards in a water bath. A safeguard when making custard is to remove it from the heat when it reaches 170° to 175°F on a candy thermometer. Custards may be variously flavored with chocolate, vanilla, fruit, and so on. Stirred custards are softer than baked custards and are often used as a sauce or as an ice cream base.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.