The term “custard” spans so many possible ingredients and techniques that it is most useful to think of a custard as simply a particular texture and mouthfeel. Custards have been made for centuries by lightly cooking a blend of eggs and heavy cream, but Modernist chefs have invented myriad ways to make custards. The techniques here offer greater consistency and more control over the texture, which can range from airy, typical of a sabayon, to dense, as in a posset.
The one constant among custards is the use of plenty of fat, which not only provides that distinctive mouthfeel but also makes custard an excellent carrier of fat-soluble flavors and aromas. Lighter varieties of custard, however, can be aerated in a whipping siphon into smooth, creamy foams.
One of the more iconic custards is crème brûlée, which has a distinctively rich, velvety texture, and, like many other custards, egg yolks and heat serve as its thickener and gelling agent, respectively. For this recipe, we gave our Coffee Crème Brûlée a twofold Modernist twist by combining the techniques of sous vide and cold infusion. Sous vide provides increased precision and temperature control over the custard, and cold infusion better preserves the aromatics and coffee flavor.
Adapted from Modernist Cuisine at Home