Overview of Creams and Custards


Appears in
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine

By French Culinary Institute

Published 2021

  • About

Creams and custards are nothing more than the simple combination of eggs, milk or cream, and sugar. Done well, they are silky smooth, just sweet enough to please, and eminently satisfying. They can be used as dessert, on their own, or, to again quote Larousse Gastronomique, “as fillings, toppings, or accompaniments to pastries”. Whether custard or cream, they are referred to as crèmes in classic French pastry making.

A crème can be as straightforward as a simple cup custard or as elegant as a crackling crème brûlée. Almost all creams and custards are cooked, although they may be eaten either warm or cold. No matter the type, the technique to master is the heating of the milk and eggs. When the perfect temperature is achieved, the result is a creamy satinlike texture. When the mixture becomes too hot, the protein in the eggs turns into lumps and immediately cancels the egg mixture’s ability to hold moisture. When the intense heat is prolonged, the lumps become dessicated chunks floating in a watery bath.