Kitchen Confidence

How to Temper Eggs

By • May 15, 2013 • 0 Comments

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Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: The secret to getting silky puddings and custards -- and avoiding a scrambled mess. 

egg

Although we'd happily eat ice cream year-round, it's quickly approaching peak frozen treat season. Whether your favorite is the reliable vanilla, or something a bit more decadent, in order to whip up a batch of your own you'll need to master a classic kitchen technique. We're referring to tempering eggs -- a technique used when you need to add raw eggs to a warm mixture, like an ice cream base, custard, or soup. Master it now, and we promise it will save you frustration in the future. 

Let's get started. The exact specifics will depend on the recipe you've chosen, but the first step is to heat up your warm component (here, we're making ice cream, so we're heating up our cream base). It will be steamy, but not quite boiling.

Next, whisk together your egg mixture in a large bowl. Make sure it's large, as you'll be adding liquid to it!

Grab a ladleful of your cream, and slowly drizzle into your egg mixture, while constantly whisking like mad. A handy trick is to place a non-skid mat (or tea towel) under your bowl, so that you don't need to hold it while whisking. Once completely incorporated, repeat with more cream, until you've added about half the total volume of liquid.

At this point, the temperature of the eggs should be high enough that you can safely add it back to the remaining cream in the pot. Do this slowly, while whisking. Next, slowly heat the mixture through, and then cook until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. 

More: Our Favorite Pudding Recipes.

Strain the mixture in case there are any lumps, and continue with your recipe.

That's it! You've successfully tempered eggs, and now hold the secret to many batches of delicious ice cream and custard. 

What is your favorite recipe involving tempered eggs? Tell us in the comments!

Photos by James Ransom

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Tags: how-to, eggs, tempering eggs, technique, how-to & diy

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