CUSTARD BASE: BEAT eggs, sugar, honey and salt in medium heavy saucepan until blended; STIR in milk. COOK over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is just thick enough to coat a metal spoon with a thin film and temperature reaches 160°F, about 15 minutes. Do not allow to boil. REMOVE from heat immediately.
COOL quickly. Set pan in larger pan of ice water; STIR occasionally and gently for a few minutes to hasten cooling. PRESS piece of plastic wrap onto surface of custard to prevent a “skin” from forming. REFRIGERATE until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour.
ICE CREAM: POUR chilled custard, whipping cream and vanilla into 1-gallon ice cream freezer can. FREEZE according to manufacturer’s directions, using 6 parts crushed ice to 1 part rock salt. TRANSFER to freezer containers, allowing head space for expansion; FREEZE until firm.
This basic custard can be varied with flavors and stir-ins of your choice. For stir-ins, use pureed fruit, mini chips and other small pieces.
Banana-Nut Frozen Custard Ice Cream Variation: Prepare recipe as above, decreasing vanilla to 1 1/2 tsp. Stir 3 large mashed bananas and 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans into chilled custard before freezing.
Chocolate Frozen Custard Ice Cream Variation: Prepare recipe as above, adding 3 squares (1 oz. each) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped, to the custard base before cooking.
Strawberry Frozen Custard Ice Cream Variation: Prepare recipe as above, omitting vanilla. Partially freeze ice cream. Add 2 cups sweetened crushed fresh strawberries to the freezer can and finish freezing.
Cherry Frozen Custard Ice Cream Variation: Prepare recipe as above, decreasing vanilla to 1 tsp. and adding 2 Tbsp. almond extract. Partially freeze ice cream. Add 2 lbs. pitted pureed dark sweet fresh cherries or 1 can (16 to 17 oz.) pitted dark sweet cherries, drained and chopped, to the freezer can and finish freezing.
Secrets of success: Low heat, a heavy saucepan, constant stirring and patience are the keys to making custard sauce. If you increase the cooking temperature to try to speed the process along, the custard is likely to curdle. Stirring constantly, making sure to cover the entire bottom and the corners of the pan, prevents scorching and ensures that the mixture heats evenly.
This recipe is an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of choline.
Watch carefully and test frequently toward the end of the cooking time, after about 10 to 12 minutes. The last few minutes are crucial. Undercooked sauce will be thin and watery; overcooked sauce will curdle. The difference is a matter of only a few degrees.
Coats a metal spoon: A thermometer is best, but if you don’t have one, use this test for doneness. Dip a metal spoon partway into the custard, then withdraw it. Custard should drip off the spoon, leaving a thin coating that adheres to the spoon. Repeat test as necessary, using a clean spoon each time, until the correct stage is reached.
Cool quickly: The ice water bath is another aid to prevent curdling. It cools the custard and stops the cooking quickly. Have it ready in advance. At this point it is important to stir only occasionally, not constantly. Too much stirring will break down the structure of the thickened custard and result in a thin consistency.
Beginners may want to cook the custard sauce in a double boiler over simmering water. This method takes longer for the sauce to thicken, but allows more control and reduces the risk of curdling.
Cream or milk? Custard and ice cream can be made with any combination of milk (skim, low-fat or whole) and cream products (half-and-half, light, heavy or whipping) to suit your dietary needs. The higher the proportion of fat, the richer and softer the custard will be. Frozen custard with a high proportion of milk will be harder and resemble ice milk.