How to Keep Custard Sauce From Curdling

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A custard is a cooked mixture of egg yolks, milk or cream and sugar. Custards can be served on their own or transformed into another dessert, such as ice cream, cheesecake or pudding. A traditional custard requires you to pour hot ingredients over egg yolks and whisk to the desired consistency. When you complete this step properly, you’ll have a smooth, creamy dessert that is thickened only by the proteins in the eggs. But if you allow the egg yolks to get too hot, you’ll have a curdled, separated mess.

Things You'll Need

  • Whisk
  • Thermometer
  • Immersion blender or countertop blender
  • Heat the milk or cream according to the recipe instructions. Most recipes include a temperature to heat your milk or cream to. Do not go above this point -- if your milk or cream is at boiling or 212 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll curdle the egg yolks.

  • Slowly add the heated milk to the egg yolks, whisking rigorously between each addition to keep the eggs from curdling. Frequently check the temperature of your mixture. An ideal temperature for a custard is between 160 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk constantly as you add more milk or cream, never allowing the eggs to stand still.

  • Spot signs of curdling early. If you notice small curds starting to form, stop adding milk or cream and whisk the mixture until the eggs have smoothed and cooled slightly. Then, begin to add the milk or cream again.

  • Fix curdled custard with an immersion blender. Use a quick pulse setting to break down any curdled spots and restore your custard to a creamier texture. If you notice your custard has curdled after you have chilled it, use an immersion blender or countertop blender to puree the custard until it is smooth. Do not over-blend the mixture -- this can make it thin and runny. Push remaining custard through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any curdled areas.

References

  • Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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