Life is Sweet: Irish Cream Custard |

Life is Sweet: Irish Cream Custard

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Ireland, I thank you. The incredible beauty of your country and the delightful appeal of your people have brought immeasurable pleasure to me and so many others. And, if that’s not reason enough for gratitude, so has your cream liqueur. No, indeed, let’s not forget that …the perfect blend of real cream and Irish whiskey creates a drink that’s memorable, haunting, downright celestial. Yup, in my book, it’s a national treasure.

If you agree with me, you’ll enjoy this dessert. Irish cream liqueur, combined with milk, cream, sugar and a few egg yolks, is baked and, thereby, transformed into an enchanting little custard. It boasts a smooth, creamy, almost-ethereal texture that contrasts appealingly with the mild punch of the Irish cream liqueur. The whole experience is a heady one, worthy of a St. Patrick’s Day feast or any meal for which you want a noteworthy ending.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly this elegant treat comes together. It takes me about twenty minutes of active time, from assembling the ingredients to placing the custards in the oven. And, an additional plus: this is a make-ahead dessert…my favorite for entertaining.

If you don’t have any of the ramekins specified in the recipe, make the desserts in espresso or demitasse cups or even in glass custard cups. What’s key is to keep the containers small; a petite serving is part of this dessert’s charm.

I present the Irish Cream Custards either unadorned or with a pretty swirl of whipped cream on top and accompanied by a crisp cookie or two.

Vera Dawson, a Chef Instructor at the Culinary

Institute of Colorado Mountain College, lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever

necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact Vera with your comments about this column and/or your baking questions at

Make in 6, 3-ounce ramekins or 4, 4-ounce (half cup) ramekins


1/2 (one half) cup of heavy cream

1 (one) half cup of milk (non fat-free)

1/2 (one half) cup of Irish cream liqueur (I use Bailey’s)

4 (four) large egg yolks

1/4 (one fourth) cup of granulated sugar, preferably superfine or Baker’s

A pinch of salt

3/4 (three fourths) teaspoon of vanilla

Whipped cream, optional topping

Step One: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Place the ramekins in a baking dish with sides. They should be close together but not touching. Heat a kettle of water to boiling to use as a water bath.

Step Two: Combine the heavy cream, milk, and liqueur in a small saucepan or a microwave-safe bowl. Stir to mix and set the bowl aside.

Step Three: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla until combined. Heat the cream-milk-liqueur mixture on the stovetop or in the microwave until it just reaches boiling. Very slowly, drizzle it into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly, until the combination is smooth. (If you do this too fast, the hot liquid will scramble the eggs). Pour the mixture through a fine strainer into a four cup measure or a bowl with a spout and fill each of the ramekins to an equal level.

Step Four: Place the pan holding the filled ramekins in the oven and make a water bath by carefully pouring the boiling water from the kettle into the baking dish until it comes about half way up the sides of the ramekins. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the top of the pan; don’t seal it tightly, just rest it on the pan’s top. Bake until the custards are set but still jiggle slightly when moved (start checking at 15 minutes; the time required will depend on the size and shape of the ramekins). Don’t overbake the custards or they’ll lose their lovely, creamy texture.

Step Five: Take the pan out of the oven, (take care-you don’t want to splash the hot water on the custards), remove the ramekins from it (I do this with a pair of tongs) and let them cool to room temperature on a rack. Once they have cooled sufficiently, refrigerate the custards, covered with plastic wrap, at least 5 hours or overnight. Top each with a little whipped cream just before serving, if desired.

This is a variation of a recipe in Petite Sweets, by Beatrice Ojakangas.

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