Almond Custard Pie


I’m a huge fan of custard in all of its forms, no less so than in pies and tarts. Each  lightly sweet, eggy, jiggly bite of my almond custard comes with the snapping crunch of buttery, flaky crust. Their marriage is divine.

It was a surplus of almond milk that brought this riff on the custard tart to life. Normally I would use half-and-half in such a creation. Arguably this dairy alternative yields a relatively healthier dessert. The almond milk also gives the final custard a consistency not unlike trembleque – much more wiggle than the classic made with cream.

It’s worth noting that this custard follows perfectly the ratio you can find in my Kitchen Grimoire.

This recipe yields one 9-inch pie.

Almond Custard Pie
All-Butter Pie Crust
4 large eggs
112g brown sugar
1/4 ts salt
224g plain, unsweetened almond milk
1/2 ts almond extract
1/2 ts vanilla

Prepare All-Butter Pie Crust. Roll and blind bake (detailed instructions below) crust. It’s important that the custard be ready to go the second the crust is finished blind baking. Also, the egg you reserve in the next step is what you’ll use to glaze the crust, so get it ready pronto!

To start the custard, beat eggs in a medium bowl until pale yellow. Scoop out about a tablespoon of beaten egg into a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Add the rest of the ingredients to the remaining eggs and whisk to combine. As soon as the egg glaze is set on the crust, pour the custard mixture into the shell and return to oven. Immediately reduce oven to 325º and bake for 50 minutes. Pie is done when center jiggles like Jell-o or reads 175º on an instant-read thermometer.

Cool completely on a rack. If it won’t be consumed within four hours of baking, cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to three days.

To Blind Bake Crust

Rather watch than read? Try the video demo!

Before beginning, make sure the dough has rested in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Wrap a clean tea towel, or other lintless towel, around a cutting board that’s at least 13-inches square. Lightly dust it with flour. Unwrap the rested dough, place it in the center of the towel, and dust it lightly on each side with flour.

Gently slap the dough with the rolling pin to flatten it into a disc about 8-inches around. Dust the top of the disc with flour, turn it over, and dust it again. Apply moderate pressure and roll from the center of the dough up and then from the center down. Turn the dough 90º clockwise and repeat. Every time you complete a full circle (four turns), run your hand under the disk to make sure it’s not sticking. Every two complete rotations, flip the dough over. Continue until you have a 13-inch circle. Trim to a 13-inch circle using a very sharp knife or straight razor blade.

If it sticks a bit, and it will, dust lightly with flour, flip, and dust lightly with flour again. Should the dough become too soft, place in the freezer for five minutes to firm it up.

Fold finished dough circle in half, then gently lift and place into tart or pie pan. Unfold the dough to completely cover the pan and center it. The dough must now be settled into the pan so that it’s not stretched in any spots. Stretched dough will shrink in baking and ruin your afternoon. To avoid it, gently run your fingers under the edge of the dough and allow it to settle completely into the pan. You want to see a tiny bit of sag where the dough comes into the bottom of the pan.

With your fingers, gently press the dough into the sides of the pan. Fold the overhanging dough, you should have a bit less than an inch, under itself and press firmly to seal the edge. Don’t worry about forming the border now. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425º and place a foil-lined cookie sheet on the middle rack.

Remove dough from fridge, and remove plastic wrap. Quickly work the border into a semblance of evenness by pinching with your thumb and index finger. If you have a lipless pie pan (usually glass), as you’re evening the border, squish it down a bit so that no more than 1/4-inch is above the rim of the pan. With a fork, poke holes about 1/2-inch apart all over the bottom and side of the crust.

Gently mold a piece of aluminum foil into the bottom of the crust, pushing it carefully but completely into the sides. Be certain not to fold down the edges of the foil or they will make a mess of your border. Fill the foil evenly with rice or beans, immediately place on waiting cookie sheet, and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove crust from oven. Gently pull foil from a portion of the edge and check to see if the crust has set. If it looks dry almost to the bottom, you’re good. Otherwise, return to the oven for ten more minutes. An easy way to tell if the pastry is done is to pull the foil back enough to expose a bit of the bottom at this point. Sides that look mostly like the bottom does aren’t done! The whole point of this exercise is to keep the crust from slipping into the pan, rendering itself useless, or shrinking like a wool sock in a hot dryer. Your patience will be rewarded. Finally, if at any point the exposed edge of the crust looks like it’s burning, lower the oven by 25º.

When the sides of the crust are dry and set, gather the corners of the foil and lift it out, beans/rice and all. Rest the foil on a heat-proof plate to cool. Poke only the bottom of the crust once more with a fork and return to the oven to finish baking. This will take about 15 additional minutes. The crust is done when the entire bottom is deep, golden brown on the inside of the pan. This is critical. The deep, golden brown means the crust is fully cooked. It will not cook further when it gets filled with custard because physics. A crust insufficiently baked now will be a staggering disappointment later.

You’re almost done!

With a pastry or sauce brush, spread the beaten egg reserved when the custard was made onto the inside bottom and sides of the crust. Bake for five additional minutes.

Greek Macarons (Ergolavi)

Greek almond macarons

Redolent of almonds and rose water, you’ll either find these cookies heavenly or like taking a bite out of grandma. (Omit the rose water if you’re in the grandma camp.) For me, their pleasure is derived from the contrast in texture between the crisp exterior and soft, candy-like interior. Also, they are gluten-free if that sort of a thing excites you.

Of course you can buy blanched almonds, but they’re both twice the price and half the quality of doing it yourself using whole raw almonds. The procedure is super simple. Put the almonds in a pan and just cover with water. Bring to a low boil over medium heat, kill the heat, and allow to stand one minutes before draining and rinsing to cool. While still wet and warm, pinch them between your thumb and index finger to remove the skins. This will take you about 15 minutes for this recipe. If you have a semi-responsible child/spouse, this is the perfect thing for them to do to help in the kitchen.

This recipe requires a food processor.


240g blanched & peeled whole raw almonds
2g salt
100g egg whites (3)
240g white sugar
4g almond extract
2g vanilla extract
2g rose water

Roll almonds in a fresh, clean towel to remove any excess water if you blanched them yourself.

Add eggs and salt to the bowl of the food processor and blitz for about 15 seconds to lighten and combine. Add the sugar and flavorings and blitz for another 15 seconds.

Add the almonds and process for a minute. Stop the food processor, remove the lid, and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Process for another minute, or until no pieces are larger than a sesame seed. Remove to a bowl, and chill for an hour minimum.

Preheat oven to 350º and prepare cookie sheets with at least four sheets of parchment paper cut to size. This will allow you to pipe/dish new racks while the others bake. Set your racks in the middle of the upper- and lower-third of your oven.

You may either be fancy and pipe 100ish quarter-sized kisses with a Wilton #21 tip onto the parchment paper or scoop them generously with a teaspoon measure. When I really need to eat my feelings, I use a #30 disher (2 tablespoons) and make the big boys shown in the recipe’s photo. This treatment maximizes the chewy interior. The cookies do not spread and require no more than an inch between them.

Bake two racks at a time, rotating the sheets between the racks and turning them 180º as you do so half way through the cooking time. Piped and smaller spooned cookies require 20 minutes, the Almond Bombs from Disher #30 require 24 minutes. Rest on parchment, on cooling racks, for five minutes before moving to plain cooling racks. These will keep for a week in an airtight container at room temperature.