May 30, 2005

Milk & Honey Custard

This is a very fragrant flan dessert. it is not overly sweet and can be served at room temperature, or slightly warm. If you make it ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator, bring it up to room temperature before serving. It is baked in a 350 degree oven in a Bain Marie, or water bath, to keep the temperature constant and ensure a very delicate texture.


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup of honey
  • 4 cups 2% milk
  • vanilla bean or vanilla extract
  • fresh fruit or edible flowers to garnish


  • savarin mold or 8 individual 6 oz. ramekins
  • Bain Marie (large shallow pain placed in the oven and filled with water).



Combine the sugar and half of the water in a small heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture turns amber -- taking care not to burn. Shake the pan as the sugar boils, but avoid stirring it with a spoon.

When the sugar reaches the desired color, remove it from the heat and very carefully add the rest of the water. It will spatter and bubble up. Shake the pan and stir with a long-handled spoon until the caramel is smooth.

Pour into the molds or into the individual ramekins. Turn to coat the bottom of the mold(s) and set aside to cool.

Cut the vanilla bean in half and add it to the milk in a heavy-bottomed pot. Bring the milk just to boiling and the remove it from the heat. Let steep for a few minutes, and then scrape the seeds from the bean, adding them back to the milk. If you are using vanilla extract, just scald the milk and cool slightly.

Combine the eggs, yolks, and honey with a wire whip. Very gradually at first, add the scalded milk to the eggs, stirring consistently so that the eggs do not curdle. Once the eggs and honey are warm, you can add the milk more rapidly. If you are using vanilla extract, you can add it now.

Pour the custard into the molds and placed them in the oven in the Bain Marie. Cover the Bain Marie with a cookie sheet and bake until the custard is set around the edges but still a little wobbly in the center. This may take 30-45 minutes with the savarin mold, depending on how warm the Bain Marie was when you put the custard in.

Turn the oven off, open the oven door and leave the custard in the Bain Marie for 15 minutes. Remove it from the water and cool on a rack until ready to serve.

To unmold the custard, run a knife around the edge (and around the tube in a savarin) to break the suction. Put a plate with a lip over the custard and invert it, giving a little shake if necessary. It should come out easily if the mold was coated well with the caramel.

Serve with fresh seasonal fruit, or edible flowers such as pansies, Johnny jump-ups or violets.

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