Charred Vanilla Bean Custard

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A rich & creamy custard made with a charred vanilla bean for extra flavour! This sauce goes great with crumbles, tarts, pies & cakes.

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charred vanilla bean custard

If you’re a fan of a classic vanilla custard, you’ll love this recipe. It’s rich & creamy like regular custard but with the flavour turned up to the max, thanks to a charred vanilla bean!

Charring a good quality vanilla pod takes very little time to do but is the secret ingredient when making the best custard ever. Try it in your next batch of custard or ice cream & you’ll never go back!

If you’re looking for a dessert to serve with this custard, check out our ever growing collection of dessert recipes! Our sticky toffee pudding, sticky toffee gingerbread, brown butter & miso treacle tart & classic apple crumble will all work great with this custard.

Charred Vanilla Beans

Charring vanilla beans is a super simple yet effective way of amplifying their flavour. Vanilla that has been charred will have a more intense flavour with roasted, smoky undertones.

Charring vanilla takes less than 5 minutes & actually makes it easier to scrape the seeds out of the pod! You’ll know when the pod is ready because it will have puffed up & will be nicely toasted on both sides. If you think regular vanilla is good, wait until you try charring it. The flavour is next level!

How To Char Vanilla In A Frying Pan

You can char vanilla over a gas burner or even on a barbecue but using a frying pan is by far the easiest & most accessible way. Here’s how…

  1. Set a frying pan over a medium heat & leave to heat up for a minute or two.
  2. Add in the vanilla pod then cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.
  3. Once the vanilla has puffed up, take it off the heat & leave to cool before using.
charred vanilla bean

What Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Vanilla Bean – You’ll need half a vanilla pod for this custard recipe. Good quality vanilla tends to be expensive but a little goes a long way!
  • Milk – Whole milk makes a creamier custard due to its’ higher fat content. Semi skimmed will work as well though.
  • Cream – You’ll need double/heavy cream for this custard.
  • Sugar – We’re using caster sugar for sweetness. If you’d like a more caramelised flavour, use light brown sugar instead.
  • Egg Yolks – 100 grams of egg yolks is needed here, which equates to around 6 yolks.
  • Cornflour – Used to thicken the custard, to a nice pouring consistency. If you’d prefer a thicker or thinner custard, feel free to adjust the amount of cornflour used.
  • Salt – Adding a good pinch of sea salt to the custard elevates the flavour nicely.

How To Make Charred Vanilla Bean Custard

The full, printable recipe card for this custard can be found at the bottom of this post!

Recipe Breakdown

  1. Char The Vanilla – To char the vanilla, place a frying pan over a medium heat then once hot, add in the vanilla. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until puffed up & well charred. Transfer the pod to a plate then set aside to cool.
  2. Warm Milk – Onto the custard. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod then add both the pod & seeds into a saucepan. To this, add milk, cream, half the sugar & a good pinch of sea salt. Set the pan over a low heat & warm until steaming hot.
  3. Temper Eggs – In the meantime, place egg yolks, cornflour & the remaining sugar into a mixing bowl then whisk until smooth & combined. Then once the milk is warm, slowly pour two thirds of it into the yolks, whisking constantly as you do so.
  4. Cook Until Thick – Pour the tempered eggs back into the pan of milk then cook over a low heat until it reaches a temperature of 82°c/180°f. Make sure to stir the custard constantly. Once cooked, pass the custard into a jug, through a sieve then serve.

Homemade Custard Tips & Tricks

  • Use good vanilla – A small amount of high quality vanilla goes a long way but makes all the difference to the flavour of our custard. You’ll need to use half a vanilla pod for this recipe (instead of paste), as we’ll be charring it.
  • Char the vanilla – Charring vanilla beans intensifies their flavour & adds a subtle smoky, roasted flavour. Charring only takes a couple of minutes & can be done in a pan, over a gas burner or on a barbecue.
  • Cook gently – It’s best to cook custard over a low heat, stirring constantly, to avoid scrambling the eggs.
  • Use a digital food probe – To make sure we don’t over cook the custard, we should stop cooking it as soon as it reaches a temperature of 82°c/180°f. A digital food probe comes in handy here.

What To Serve With Charred Vanilla Bean Custard

This custard can be served with a wide range of desserts! From classic fruit crumbles, pies & tarts to sticky toffee pudding & homemade cakes and muffins. Or for a super quick & easy dessert, pour warm custard over some chopped banana or tinned fruit. For more serving suggestions, take a look at our dessert recipe collection!

Making Custard In Advance & Reheating

If you’re making your custard ahead of time, store it in the fridge with a piece of baking parchment pressed on top (this stops a skin forming) for up to 3 days. To reheat, warm in a saucepan over a gentle heat, to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Alternatively, heat the custard up in the microwave in short, 20 second burst, making sure to stir regularly.

pan of vanilla custard

Cooking Custard On An Aga

With all of my recipes, I include cooking instructions for conventional ovens, fan ovens & also Agas. Here’s how to cook this recipe on an Aga.

Char the vanilla pod in a pan, on the boiling plate. Use the simmering plate to warm the milk & cook the custard.

Equipment Used

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More Dessert Recipes To Try!

If you have enjoyed this charred vanilla bean custard recipe, it would mean a lot if you could leave a review & rating!

Charred Vanilla Bean Custard

A rich & creamy custard made with a charred vanilla bean for extra flavour! This sauce goes great with crumbles, tarts, pies & cakes.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: English, French
Servings: 8 Portions
Author: Ben Racey

Equipment

  • Frying Pan
  • Medium Saucepan
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Sieve
  • Digital Food Probe

Ingredients

Charred Vanilla

  • ½ Vanilla Pod See Notes

Custard

  • 500 g Whole Milk
  • 250 g Double Cream
  • 100 g Caster Sugar
  • A Pinch Of Sea Salt
  • 100 g Egg Yolks (6 Yolks)
  • 2 tbsp Cornflour

Instructions

Charred Vanilla Bean

  • Place a frying pan over a medium heat & leave to heat up for a minute or two.
  • Add in your vanilla bean & cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until well charred & puffed up. Transfer to a plate & leave to cool down.

Custard

  • Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod the place both the pod & seeds into a medium saucepan.
  • Add the milk, cream, ½ the sugar & a good pinch of sea salt into the saucepan with the vanilla then place over a low heat & leave to get steaming hot, stirring occasionally.
    Don't let the milk boil!
  • Whilst your milk is warming up, place the egg yolks, cornflour & the remaining sugar into a mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth then set aside.
  • Once the milk is warm, gradually pour two thirds of it into the yolks, whisking constantly as you do so.
    This is called tempering the egg yolks.
  • Pour the tempered yolks back into the pan of milk then set over a low heat. Cook, stirring constantly until the custard reaches 82°c/180°f.
  • Pass the cooked custard into a jug, through a sieve then serve immediately.
    Alternatively, pass into a container, place a piece of baking parchment onto the surface of the custard then leave to cool. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in a saucepan, over a low heat.

Notes

1. Cooking On An Aga – Char the vanilla pod using the boiling plate. Use the simmering plate to warm the milk & cook the custard.
2. Vanilla Pod – If you’re vanilla pod is small, use a whole one. If large, use half of even a third. Vanilla pods tend to be expensive so a little goes a long way.
3. Cooking The Custard – Make sure to cook the custard gently, whilst stirring constantly, to avoid curdling the eggs. 
4. Storage – If you’re not serving the custard straight away, it can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
5. Reheating – To reheat the custard, warm it in a saucepan over a low heat. Alternatively, warm in the microwave in 20 second bursts.

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