Baked Duck Egg Custard with Bourbon Brown Sugar Sauce

DuckEggCustard

One of the great things about raising ducks – especially during the winter – is that they are hardy layers!  I’ve been blessed enough to have two little troopers who lay consistently despite the frigid temps outside as long as they get enough feed and good warm bedding.   Two female ducks will produce an egg each per day.  So in no time at all, if you vary your breakfasts with oatmeal, you’ll wind up with a surplus – which is great for baking.

Duck eggs are highly prized by chefs because they have a higher yolk to white ratio (they’re generally larger than chicken eggs) and because of that the fat content is higher which means you get a superior baked product every time.  You use duck eggs the same as chicken eggs: 1 duck egg = 1 chicken egg in recipes.

One of my favorite desserts here in “Quandry, Indiana” is baked custard.  This is not to be confused with the kind of custard that the Doctor from the TARDIS likes with fish fingers.  No, that’s pastry custard and has more of a soft pudding consistency.  Baked custard has a silky smooth but firm texture that can stand up when plated like a cake.

FishFingerCustard

And just like its softer version, its absolutely fantastic!  But this version is even more delightful because its surrounded with a rich bourbon flavored brown sugar sauce and topped with nutmeg and finely ground fresh walnuts from the shell.

Duck Egg Custard

Ingredients

8 duck eggs
5 cups whole milk (don’t use skim or 2%)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white sugar ( measure this precisely – its important to the texture)
1/4 tsp or more nutmeg
1-2 TBSP vanilla extract
If using for pies, 2 lightly baked 8-9 inch pie shells.  But I like to use a 2 quart round casserole dish and that’s what this recipe describes.

How to make it

  • Thoroughly blend together eggs, sugar, and nutmeg.
  • Scald milk and salt
  • slowly add hot milk to egg mixture, blending carefully
  • pour into pie shells OR a 2qt casserole dish
  • sprinkle top with extra nutmeg
  • For single baked custard, bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 1 hr
    For pies, pre heat oven to 475 bake for 50 minutes

The simplest way to ensure the success of this dish (no curdy texture to the custard which can happen if you’re not careful) is to make sure all your ingredients are assembled and to use large pyrex measuring cups to mix in or bowls with a lip on the side to pour with.  You’ll want to time this well so that the milk is working on a scald about the same time that you are blending your egg mixture.  So you’ll be alternating between blending the eggs on your counter and stirring the milk on the stove.  So, measure your milk out in your pan with a pouring lip and set over medium heat with a clear lid, if possible. While that’s going, measure out your sugar and nutmeg into a large pyrex measuring cup ( the 2 quart size because remember you’ll be adding the 5 cups of scalded milk).  Next crack the eggs in all at once.  Using a large whisk ( I prefer that to a hand mixer but you can use one on low speed), blend the sugar, eggs and nutmeg till yellow and smooth. You want this well incorporated before you add the scalded milk.  Don’t be tempted to use more sugar.  Too much sugar will affect the texture – it won’t be as firm. The egg yolks also affect the texture to make a sturdy product which is why the larger duck yolks turn out to be your friend and make this custard recipe very forgiving.  Keep checking and stirring the milk throughout this process, not letting it scorch or brown on the bottom of the pan.  You’ll want to heat it to the point of just short of boiling.  when ready, it will appear bubbly over the top with no skin.

Now you are ready for the tricky part: whisking the hot milk into the egg mixture without curdling the eggs.  Its not as tough as it sounds and with a little patience and practice you’ll be a pro.  The operative word is S-L-O-W-L-Y.  Especially, at the beginning.  So, carefully pour a small, steady stream of milk into the egg mixture all the while that you are gently and quickly whisking it (or using your hand mixer on low speed).  Stop at intervals making sure that the milk poured in is completely and smoothly incorporated into the mixture before pouring another slow, steady stream. Be patient and do this slowly.  Your reward will be a beautiful silky smooth custard that stands tall.  When all of the milk is incorporated, pour the mixture into the 2 qt casserole dish and sprinkle the top with nutmeg.  Then carefully place it in your pre-heated oven and bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and test with a sharp knife.  It should come out clean. Set aside on the counter to cool.

Bourbon Brown Sugar Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 stick butter

1/2 cup water

1 TBSP of Bourbon (Harrison or Jim Beam, both use Indiana corn and I prefer the Beam although its made it KY)

How to make it

Measure out the ingredients in a medium pan and bring to boil over medium heat. Don’t skimp on the butter as that’s what keeps the syrup from hardening. Whisk till it comes to a boil and remove from heat.

Place a scoop of the cooled custard on the center of your serving plate and spoon the syrup carefully around the sides.  Finish off with a dusting of finely ground walnuts on top.  You’ll have a wonderful dessert to complete a winter meal of hearty stew or soup!

And here are those wonderful ducks who produced the eggs for this delicious custard

Breakfast

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