Custards that are traditionally baked in a bain-marie, or water bath, turn out even better in the pressure cooker: They cook more evenly and are less likely to form large bubbles or curdle.


Makes six servings


  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 egg yolk

Special equipment: Pressure-cooker rack

Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean and add to the milk in a small saucepan along with the bean. Heat until just about to boil.

Remove from heat, allowing the vanilla bean to infuse the milk for five minutes, then remove the bean.

In a separate small saucepan, melt ½ cup sugar over medium heat. Cook, but do not stir, until it is a rich golden brown.

Pour the caramelized sugar into a 1-quart metal bowl and swirl to coat the bottom and ½ inch of the sides evenly.

In another bowl, beat the eggs and yolk together with the remaining ½ cup sugar until smooth, then whisk in the milk. Pour the mixture into the caramel-lined bowl, cover tightly with a sheet of foil, and place on a rack in the pressure cooker.

Add 2 cups water to the bottom of the pressure cooker, cover, and bring to high pressure.

Turn the heat down and cook for 10 minutes.

Use the quick-release method: Run cold water over the lid of the pressure cooker.

Uncover, and allow to cool undisturbed for at least one hour.

Then, refrigerate for at least three hours before serving.

To remove from the bowl, run a knife around the edge of the custard, and invert onto a plate. Serve as is, or top with fresh berries.

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