maple custard

Sick day.

Every couch is wrinkled and askew. Rosie and Joey are both down, and I have a sinking feeling that I might be the next to fall.

I’m washing sheets and running baths. And as I realized that all I want to eat when I’m sick is maple custard, I’m also making custard. The rest of my family seems to appreciate it too.

There is a strange comfort in sick days. I feel it somewhere in the moment after I stop worrying that sickness is coming, and I just throw up my hands and accept that it’s here. And it’s always reassuring to feel love for my children even as they throw up all over me. I never thought I’d be able to pull that one off, and I remember doing the same thing to my mother when I was little and marveling at her patience and at how un-grossed out she was.

Everyone needs something from me today. Even Sadie, the healthy one, seems to need me more . And as I start to get a little dizzy and my tummy flips, I lose my patience. “Hold on!” And then there is a settling again into corners with books and movies and naps, and everything goes quiet.

I’ve remembered this custard with the help of my friend Janet. I am fully aware that this is my second post in a row to mention Janet, but she’s finally started writing over here where you can all get the benefits of her company, and I’m just happy about it.

These little custards are so easy to put together that you can even make them for yourself when your not feeling well. They are, of course, perfectly appropriate for healthy people too, especially (as Janet tells us) in the lunches of small, healthy people, but the reason why this is such spectacular sick food is because if it’s simplicity, gentleness, and easy-going nutritiousness. I’ll stop shying away from what I really mean here and say right out that this stuff is like breast milk, only in a mason jar. Delicious, slightly sweet, high protein love. It will restore your health and well being, and then some.

Maple Custard

adapted from Mollie Katzen, Moosewood Cookbook, with additional thanks to Janet who gives all sorts of exciting tips and additions to the recipe (as well as the suggestion for the perfect pudding container, that is, the 1/2-pint wide-mouthed mason jar, here )

Makes enough for nine 1/2-pint wide-mouth mason jars

8 eggs

1/2 cup maple syrup

5 cups whole milk

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground, if possible)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set nine 1/2-pint wide mouth mason jars (or ramekins or custard cups) into your largest pan. Set a kettle of water on the stove to boil.

Put the eggs into the blender or the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment. Blend (or whisk) the eggs until just starting to get foamy. Add the maple syrup, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla. Blend or run the stand mixer again until the mixture is uniform. (You can also do this by hand with a whisk- just make sure that the mixture is well-beaten.)

Pour the mixture into the jars. Put the pan into the oven, and then pour the boiling water (remember that kettle?) into the pan so that it comes at least halfway up the jars. Close the door to the oven and bake for 50 minutes, or until the custards are set, puffed, and golden.

Remove from the water-filled pan. Let cool a bit, then eat warm or chilled. Top the jars with their lids for storage in the fridge.




  1. TeenaMarie says

    AW, I am so sorry you and the little people are sick. Though, I know of what you speak on the lighter, cozy, comfier side of the issue. Lucky me to find this recipe. Yum! get well soon! :)

  2. Kristin says

    Just an FYI…the jars you used in the pictures are NOT 1/2 pints, they are 1/4 pints. Half a pint is 8 ounces/1 cup. 😉

    • alana says

      Hi Kristin, It might be hard to see from the picture, but these custards are in fact in wide mouth 1/2 pints, which are lower and squatter than the 1/2 pints you might be used to. You could also make these custards in small 1/2 cup jelly jars (which I think is the jar your thinking of), but I’d just lessen the cooking time a bit.

  3. Jamie Vlcek says

    Alana- as your mother (not sick yet either)…please save me one of those yummy custards for when I get home…love, mom

  4. Elizabeth says

    I’m lactose intolerant and custard is the thing I miss the most. I’ve tried substituting soy milk, and it’s not quite the same. Any suggestions?

    • alana says

      That is a hard one! I haven’t done too much experimentation here, but have you tried working with coconut milk? It’s as creamy as milk (whereas soy milk has more water), and so my sense is that it would work pretty well. Also, I’m not sure if you’ve tried raw milk? I know I’m getting into slightly political territory, but so many people who are lactose intolerant do well with raw milk. And it makes a great custard!

  5. Alna Kleid says

    When I was a child (over 80 years ago) my signal to start getting well was grandmother visiting with custard and a bouquet of flowers. Times don’t always change.


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