A mixture of milk or cream, eggs, and sugar, custard can take many forms, depending on the specifics of each ingredient and how it’s cooked to make the custard set. Here is a glossary of typical custard desserts.
Custard sauce Also known as crème anglaise, this creamy dessert sauce is stirred during cooking so it thickens rather than sets. It also serves as the base for ice cream.
Crème brûlée Made with heavy cream and egg yolks and baked in ramekins in a hot water bath, this rich custard is too delicate to unmold. It’s chilled in the ramekins, then its surface is sprinkled with sugar and caramelized with a torch or under the broiler. Ideally, a crème brûlée should be both hot and cold, crisp and soft.
Crème caramel This is baked in a water bath, too, but unlike crème brûlée, crème caramel is usually made with whole milk and whole eggs and is fi rm enough to unmold. The baking dish or ramekin is first coated with hot caramel, which becomes a sauce when the custard is inverted onto a plate.
Flan Flan is the Hispanic version of crème caramel. In Latin America it’s usually made with sweetened condensed milk and sometimes cream cheese, as in the Key Lime Cheesecake Flans, so it has a firmer texture than a French crème caramel.