Custard block, is simply frozen Guyanese vanilla custard and is different than homemade Guyanese ice cream. Although many non-Guyanese people call ice cream, frozen custard!
Traditionally, custard block is made with milk, sugar, spices and Bird's Custard Powder. For a very long time I didn't have access to Bird's Custard Powder where I lived and made my custard block following an old fashion vanilla custard recipe (which is closer to how homemade ice cream is made). I'm sharing both versions of my recipe below as well as sugar free and dairy free alternatives.
- Making custard block with Custard Powder
- What is Custard Powder?
- Making custard block without custard powder
- Non Dairy Custard Block
- Make your custard block sugar free
- Setting the custard block
- Step by step guide to adding custard block to icicle bags
- Save it for Later
- Printable Recipe Card
- Loving this recipe? Try Flutie, another favorite Guyanese Frozen treat:
Making custard block with Custard Powder
If you can find Bird's Custard Powder where you live then the ingredients for this custard is simply, evaporated milk (loosely called carnation milk), condensed milk, Bird's custard powder, vanilla essence and nutmeg. Some people also add cinnamon and almond or mixed essence. I like to keep it simple.
What is Custard Powder?
I buy Bird's Custard powder online at amazon.com. You can find it linked here. I also get it in the international foods section at World Market. If neither of these options are available to you and you would like to make the egg free version of this custard you can make your own custard powder. Custard powder is simply cornstarch, annatto powder (for color) and artificial flavoring (to give it the vanilla taste). For a simple custard use a 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to 8 ounces of liquids ratio. Simply make a slurry by dissolving the cornstarch in some of your liquid, then add the slurry to your liquid to make a thickened egg free custard. You don't need to add anything for color and you can add vanilla or french vanilla extract (essence) for flavor. It's that simple.
Making custard block without custard powder
To make custard block without using custard powder, I use eggs instead of the custard powder to create an old fashion custard. This custard is rich and creamy and has a smooth texture even when frozen. For this recipe I used evaporated milk and condensed milk, but if you prefer a custard block that is not as rich or sugary you may use just 4 cups of evaporated milk or regular milk (whole, 2% or skim works here). Then sweeten to taste. About ¼ cup of granulated sugar works here.
Non Dairy Custard Block
Want to try custard block but can't have dairy? Try these dairy free alternatives, it is a 1:1 swap in the recipe:
- Almond milk: try sweetened vanilla almond milk for the best results
- Cashew milk: Cashew milk made the custard block that tasted closest to the block made with dairy milk
- Oat milk: The custard block oat milk was thick and creamy and really delicious.
Make your custard block sugar free
In my quest to make Guyanese food and treats work for my dietary needs, I'm always trying to create recipes that are refined sugar free. Skip the condensed milk and replace it with another tin of evaporated milk. Then try these alternative sugar options that worked for me:
- Coconut sugar: I used a ¼ cup of coconut sugar in my dairy free recipes and it was the right amount of sweetness. It did, however, change the color of the custard block and made it quite dark, but that didn't bother me.
- Maple syrup: This was a great sugar swap. I thought I would taste the maple flavor but I couldn't.
- Honey: If you don't mind the subtle taste of honey use honey to sweeten the custard block and it is a great refined sugar free option.
Setting the custard block
When I was growing up we used pyrex dishes or large plastic containers (often a square Demico ice cream container) to set the custard block. Then we cut the custard block into squares and served them up. Street vendors poured their custard into plastic icicle bags, froze them and sold them as delicious milk icicles. I used an ice cube tray (linked here) for my custard block and I also poured some into icicle bags for the kids.
Step by step guide to adding custard block to icicle bags
Custard block in icicle bags reminds me so much of Primary School. During our morning break (recess) all of the children lined up in front of the icicle lady to buy icicles and custard block. So naturally I couldn't make custard block without pouring some into these bags. I bought the bags from amazon.com (linked here).
Here is a quick and easy way to fill the icicle bags:
- Pour your custard block into a mug or jug with a pourable spout. I used a four cup measuring cup.
- Then place an icicle bag in a tall glass or cup. Using a glass or cup gives the bag some stability, makes it easy for pouring and allows you to have a marker for when to stop pouring so that all your icicles can have the same size.
- Fill the bag up to your desired amount leaving enough room to tie the bag
- Tie the icicle bag:
- Push all of the liquid custard down, pushing out any air bubbles
- Twist the icicles bags around a few times to ensure none of the liquids can spill while tying
- Loop extra plastic around your finger
- Then feed through the opening of the loop
- Form a knot
- Pull tight to secure the knot and snip off any extra plastic
- Once you've tied all of the icicles freeze the icicles for 2-4 hours or overnight
Save it for Later
Printable Recipe Card
Custard Block (Frozen Vanilla Custard)
- 2 cans evaporated milk
- 1 can condensed milk
- 6 eggs may use 2 tablespoons of Bird's custard powder instead of eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
- Combine evaporated and condensed milk in a medium saucepan and stir until fully combined
- Bring to a boil on medium heat, then reduce the heat to low
- Whisk together eggs in a small mixing bowl then temper milk into eggs by adding warm milk ½ cup at a time to the whisked eggs, until all of the milk is combined with the eggs.This prevents the eggs from scrambling when added directly to the pot of boiling milk
- Next add vanilla essence and nutmeg and whisk together
- Continue to cook on low, constantly whisking until mixture thickens
Using custard powder:
- In a small bowl add 2 tablespoons of custard powder and about ½ cup of warm milk
- Mix together until all of the custard powder dissolves into the milk and has no lumps
- Then pour the custard powder and milk mixture into the saucepan of warm milk, whisking [vigorously] as you pour to prevent lumps
- Continue to cook on low heat until the custard thickens
- The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon but not too thick
Setting the custard:
- Pour custard into ice cube trays, ice pop molds, icicle bags or a large square dish
- Freeze until the custard sets, this should take about 2-4 hours, or possibly overnight
- If using a large dish to set, cut into 9-12 cubes and serve
Substitute the evaporated and condensed milk with 4 cups of non-dairy milk. I've used almond, cashew and oat milk with vanilla cashew milk being my favorite option.Then sweeten to taste.
Need a version that has less sugar?:
Substitute the condensed milk with another can of evaporated milk and sweeten with 3-4 tablespoons of sugar or sugar to taste. You may also use honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar to sweeten.