Weekend Food Prep–Baked Mandarin (Lemon, Orange, or other Citrus) Custard

Resolved to get more protein in your diet or to begin prepping breakfast? This recipe (like my pumpkin spice eggs) could count as dessert or breakfast, depending on your personal preferences. This is a delicious, creamy custard, and to emphasize that creamy texture, I went with the added step of baking it in a Bain Marie, which isn’t as scary and technical as it may sound. It does extend the baking time somewhat, but I think you’ll agree with me after that first bite that it’s worth it! Like a lot of my other sweet breakfast offerings, I don’t make this very sweet, just on this side of not savory. Feel free to increase the sugar to taste.

Baked Mandarin (Lemon, Orange, or other Citrus) Custard

one. Set a kettle with 3 or so cups of water to boil. Preheat oven to 325oF.

two. In a large bowl, whisk together until eggs are frothy and sugar is dissolved:
12 large eggs
1 cup egg whites
6 Tbs. half and half(1)
1/2 cup soy milk or 2 percent dairy milk(2)
1/4 cup sugar (or more to taste, up to 1/2 cup)(3)
zest and juice of 2 mandarin oranges or tangerines (or 1 naval orange, or probably any other citrus fruit you like except grapefruit, because it has cool but problematic enzymes in it that break down certain proteins)
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1-2 tsp vanilla extract

three. Pour the custard into an 8×8 glass baking dish. Set this into a larger baking dish (mine is 9×13–it’s ok if the smaller touches the bottom of the larger dish, but it’s better if there’s some space around the sides between the two dishes). Pour boiling water into the larger dish so that it goes about halfway up the custard.

four. Carefully place this all into the oven and bake until the custard is just set in the middle, between 1 hour 15 min and 1 hour 30 min. Remove from the Bain Marie. Allow the custard to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it, although allowing it to slowly cool until room temperature before serving will result in the creamiest texture. Can be served chilled, room temperature or warm.

Yields 6 servings for breakfast, maybe more if it’s dessert.

Photo description: A baked custard in a square, clear glass baking pan. It is bright yellow with a bit of browning on the top.

(1) The half and half provides a helpful bit of fat to make this custard especially creamy. It’s not just about flavor, it’s about chemistry–the fat helps buffer the proteins in the eggs from getting too hot and denaturing, creating an undesirable, curdled texture. You could omit the half and half and just use a fattier kind of milk, but you will not get as nice a texture.

(2) I recommend standard (not low fat) soy milk or 2% or whole dairy milk for all of my custards. As noted in the previous comment, subbing in a lower fat product will result in a less pleasant custard texture.

(3) Alternative to boost the citrus flavor: Sweeten it with frozen orange juice concentrate. Substitute 2-4 tbs. frozen orange juice concentrate (don’t add any water) in place of the sugar, and make sure it’s thoroughly melted and combined when whisking the egg mixture together.

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