Vanilla Custard with Bourbon-Caramel Sauce


Serve up an elegant dessert at your next dinner party.

Vanilla Custards with Bourbon-Caramel Sauce and Bourbon-Praline Cheesecake
Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop styling: Lydia Pursell
Active Time:
30 mins
Chill Time:
4 hrs
Total Time:
4 hrs 30 mins

Delightfully light and smooth, these Vanilla Custards with Bourbon-Caramel Sauce feel like a five-star restaurant dessert. Our secret? All you need to pull off these stunning custards are a stovetop burner and a sauce pan. Similar in texture to a flan but with the elegant flavor of a crème brûlée, this vanilla custard delivers the best of both worlds. To ramp up the vanilla flavor, we use a whole vanilla bean pod in this custard, but you can substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste.

If this is your introduction to the world of custard, don't worry: We've got plenty of tips to ensure that the cooking process runs smoothly. The most important step to achieve a silky-smooth custard is to properly temper your eggs. This is the process of slowly drizzling in a hot liquid into the uncooked eggs, whisking quickly so as not to scramble the eggs, then returning the egg mixture to the remaining hot liquid so that it is smooth. No scrambled egg clumps here! Next, try your hand at another famed Southern dessert: Egg Custard Pie.

The Bourbon-Caramel Sauce is delicious on its own—store it in the fridge to drizzle on brownies or ice cream. Top your chilled custards with the Bourbon-Caramel Sauce and a dollop of whipped cream or crème fraiche. These individually-portioned desserts make a beautiful finale to any dinner party.


Vanilla Custards

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream

  • 1 vanilla bean pod

  • ¼ cup (2 oz.) bourbon

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 5 large egg yolks 

Additional Ingredient


  1. Prepare the Vanilla Custards: Place milk and cream in a large saucepan. Split vanilla bean pod lengthwise. Scrape seeds out of pod, and add seeds and pod to milk mixture. Cook milk mixture over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove and discard vanilla pod. Add bourbon to milk mixture; whisk to combine.

  2. Whisk together sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl, and whisk into hot milk mixture. Cook over medium, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and just comes to a boil, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

  3. Whisk egg yolks in a medium bowl until smooth. Slowly drizzle one-fourth of the milk mixture into egg yolks, whisking constantly. Gradually pour yolk-milk mixture into remaining milk mixture in saucepan, whisking constantly. Cook over medium-high, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and just begins to bubble, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour mixture evenly into 6 (1-cup) glasses. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 4 hours.

  4. To serve, spoon 1 ½ tablespoons Bourbon-Caramel Sauce on top of each chilled custard. Dollop each custard with sweetened whipped cream. (Reserve remaining Bourbon-Caramel Sauce for another use.)

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