A comfort dessert if there ever was one, custard induces childhood nostalgia, when mere spoonfuls would allay the worst crying bouts. We created this intensely vanilla custard to layer in our Pluot-Amaretti Trifle, but it’s equally fabulous eaten on its own.

Game plan: If you’re in a hurry, you can cool the custard more quickly by using an ice bath.

  • Yield: 4 cups
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 25 mins, plus chilling time
  • Active: 25 mins

Ingredients (7)

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and scraped, seeds and pods reserved
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces


  1. Combine milk, sugar, yolks, cornstarch, vanilla beans (including pods), and salt in a large saucepan and whisk to combine.
  2. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and, when you draw a spoon through the custard, there is a distinct separation and it doesn’t immediately fall back on itself, about 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, nest a fine mesh strainer in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. When custard is ready, remove from heat, pour into the nested strainer, and push on the custard with a rubber spatula to pass through and remove any lumps. Stir in butter until melted and smooth.
  4. Cool 10 minutes at room temperature, then place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the custard’s surface and place in the refrigerator to cool completely. Serve on its own or use in our trifle.