Milk Chocolate–Peanut Custards
San Francisco chef Matthew Accarrino of SPQR is a firm believer in making desserts healthy. So instead of loading his custard with cream, he uses just a bit, along with low-fat chocolate milk and silken tofu, for texture. He also opts to include roasted peanuts, which add terrific flavor and a little crunch.
Kaffir Lime Custards
This dreamy custard is supersilky and astonishingly simple to make. The secret: It firms up in a couple of hours with lime juice instead of the usual eggs or gelatin.
Creamy Parmesan Custards
Years ago Rachel Klein worked in a fish store in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, that sold a smoked salmon-Parmesan quiche. The combination was clunky; Klein refines it for this silky custard, which she bakes in elegant egg cups, instead of a quiche crust, and tops with gravlax and peppery arugula.
Prune Custard Tart
This creamy, fruity, elegant dessert was inspired partly by Gabriel Kreuther's grandfather, a farmer who used to grow plums and dry them for homemade tarts.
Frozen Strawberry Custard with Lemon Curd Swirl
"Nothing to me is as superb as homemade strawberry ice cream," says Andrew Zimmern. "Years ago, I swirled in some homemade leftover lemon curd that my wife makes in June for family birthday cakes, and a new treat was born in our house. This one takes a little work and a little forethought, but it is so, so, so worth it." To make this custard really special, Zimmern suggests using fresh cream, fresh butter and fresh strawberries.
Coconut Custard Pie
T.W. Graham & Co., a small neighborhood cafe and family low-country restaurant in the teeny town of McClellanville, South Carolina serves the best coconut pie of its kind--not too fancy, not complicated--and it tastes like someone's mother made it, assuming your mom loved coconut pie and made it all the time. Food has that power: It's a connector, a universal, and while I know that in my head, I don't always feel it in my heart. That day, though, there was no misunderstanding at all. –Andrew Zimmern
Maple Custards with Sugared Pecans
One of Jose Andres's favorite American sweets is pecan pie. "We love nuts in Spain too, but I confess I find pecan pie a little heavy. This version is my attempt to lighten it up a little." This twist was inspired by tocino de cielo, a rich, eggy cousin of flan.
No-Bake Chocolate Custard
This supersilky chocolate custard appears regularly on the dessert menu at Rubicon in San Francisco. Nicole Krasinski suggests serving it slightly chilled.
Granny Smith Apple and Brown Butter Custard Tart
Kate Neumann often showcases rich, nutty, fragrant browned butter in her desserts. Here, she adds it to a sweet custard loaded with caramelized apples and baked in a buttery tart shell.
Custard Phyllo Pie With Almonds and Pistachios
For this unusual open-face pie from executive pastry chef Ghaya Oliveira of Daniel in New York City, buttered phyllo is layered with nuts and baked, then drenched with syrup and filled with rich custard.
Brown Butter Custard Pie with Cranberry Glaze
To make this glorious pie, Momofuku pastry chef Christina Tosi uses a cinnamon-sugar crumb crust, a luscious brown butter filling and a cranberry glaze. Adorning the dessert: sweet potato-white chocolate ganache.
Coconut-Custard Meringue Pie
It is essential to prebake pie crusts before filling them with custards to prevent them from becoming soggy.
Milk Chocolate Pots de Crème
Chef Jamie Malone of Grand Cafe in Minneapolis floats a coffee gelée atop her decadent chocolate pots de crème. Be sure to allow plenty of time for the custard and gelée to set so your spoon can glide through both layers. You can find tonka beans at amazon.com, or substitute a whole vanilla bean.