Frozen Primal Custard

The toughest thing about eating Primal has nothing to do with dessert. Especially not when this little custard cup is so delightfully in tune with the Primal lifestyle and all its nutritive guidelines.

I must admit how I’ve missed, a little bit, the crusty, flaky sweet-filled stuff of cakes and pies and cookies ever since switching to the eating habits of Grok. But this eggy last course, which combines the best parts of all my favorites – the sweetness of a cookie, the texture of a chilled cake, the satisfying warm flavor of a gooey brownie or buttered scone, ends the yen. It’s a bit of an in-between dessert; not quite the high-carb, sugar shock item that once came with trips to the Jewish bakery or Dairy Queen – those summer after-dinner memories! – but more of a cheesecake, a flan, or even, when frozen, a sweet and delicate Italian ice that tastes a little bit like egg nog.

The recipe is remarkably easy. All it takes is a little attention to detail, a patient oven-bake, and if you want a cool dessert, a little refrigeration. Six little dessert cups later, you will be scraping and scraping the bottom of the dish, licking your spoon and fingertips.

Adopted from Bon Appetit January 2008 flan recipe, I substituted the whole milk with almond milk. It worked like a charm.

To make six servings of Primal custard, you need:

  • 5 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Original flavored almond milk
  • 12 teaspoons (1/4 cup) light blue agave syrup* (or honey)
  • ground cinnamon or nutmeg
  • six petit creuset pots or other small stoneware dishes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a saucepan, combine the milk and agave syrup. In another saucepan, heat 1-2 cups of water. Bring both pans to a simmer. Remove the milk and agave from heat. Lower the heat on the water and keep it warm.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla until yolks are very smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the warm milk and syrup to the eggs, whisk together until well combined.

Using a sieve, pour egg mixture so it evenly settles in each dessert cup. Make sure to use oven safe dishes.

Place dessert cups in a baking dish big enough so the dessert cups don’t touch one another. Pour hot water from the warm saucepan into the baking dish so that it comes up to the level of the custard on the outside of each individual dish. This water is to prevent the custard from burning. This step is very important.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake until custards are set around the edges, about 40 minutes. Allow custards to further set by refrigerating for at least 2 hours. Or serve them right away, warm.

To make frozen Italian-ice style custards, place stoneware cups in freezer for 3-4 hours after they refrigerate. Stoneware should be safe in the freezer, however do not place frozen dishes in a hot oven without allowing them to thaw first.

Nutrition Facts per custard:
Calories: 114
Fat: 4 grams
Carbs: 12 grams
Protein: 7 grams

For more Primal dessert ideas check out this forum thread. Share your Primal dessert ideas in the comment board!

*Message from Mark: If you’re curious about the inclusion of agave syrup check out my comments below. Cheers!

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68 thoughts on “Frozen Primal Custard”

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  1. I just made something similar the other night with one can of coconut milk, 3 eggs, 1 Tblsp coconut flour, & 2 ripe bananas. (thank you son of Grok for the inspiration). I added vanilla, cardamom & nutmeg, cooked on the stove then finished in Pyrex bowls in the oven with shredded coconut on top. The bananas added all the sweetness necessary. I love it warm with berries.

  2. Agave nectar is about 90% fructose. I would not push it as a healthier alternative to cane sugar.

    1. Yes, cane sugar, maple syrup, or honey are good alternatives. This is the new Worker Bee’s third post. The 90%+ fructose composition slipped by her. She’s still learning the ropes. Of course, this isn’t meant to be eaten as a regular part of the PB anyway (think sensible indulgence), and 2 tsp of the agave per ramekin won’t derail your efforts otherwise. Thanks for pointing it out, Rob. Cheers!

  3. That looks awesome!!! I knew I needed ramekins for something…now I definitely need to get them 🙂

  4. I’ve always wondered about making custard. I love the stuff, but don’t often think about it. I’ll try this over the weekend, but I believe I’ll just use the cane sugar. I doubt it changes the calorie count.

  5. Agave is not healthy! You should target no more than 20 grams of fructose per day. Your body doesn’t care if it started off from grass (cane sugar), bee spit (honey), fruits, or cactus, it processes fructose the same way from all sources. If you want a healthier sweetener, use dextrose (glucose). It may not fit some primal template, but that’s the facts.

    1. I make something very similar to this and it’s delicious. I’ve tried using both agave and honey. They both work. Agave has more fructose, as you point out Ed, but it’s sweeter and, ultimately, isn’t in a very high amount in a recipe like this. To put it in context, there’s maybe 10 grams of fructose here – lower than your 20 grams per day cut off. And 100 grams of, say, grapes has about 8 grams of fructose. Fructose should be avoided in most cases, but let’s have a little perspective. That said, I’d probably go with the honey alternative here.

    2. “The amount of fructose in agave nectar can vary, with estimates starting at about 50 or 55 percent (some say it’s much higher, depending on the processing method).”

  6. mm mm mm. Sounds delicious! When Ive really needed something slightly sweet (Fortunately its not too often), I make the same dessert every time, so this will be a nice addition… The one I make is this:
    1 banana, 1 pat butter, 1 tsp honey, cinnamon.
    Sautee sliced banana in butter (sear on both sides). Drizzle honey on top to melt. Put on dish, sprinkle as much cinnamon as you want. If I’m feeling particularly moody, I’ll melt from 85% cacao choc and drizzle on top too.

    1. Yeah, minor slip up by the new Worker Bee. But again, yes there are better alternatives, but I’m not pulling the post just because there’s a little fructose. Use a different sugar source if you’d like. In fact, I always recommend MDA readers take our recipes (and all of our content for that matter) experiment with it, question it and make it their own. It’s all about the back and forth, the refining of our collective understanding of all things related to health and fitness.

  7. How about using Stevia for a sweetener? Just sub coconut milk as suggested (it’s thicker than almond milk) and add stevia to taste. Should work just fine.

    1. Great thinking, Dave. If anyone tries this the Worker Bees and I would be interested in how it turns out.

  8. This looks delicious! This past weekend I made floating islands which do have dairy but were a super tasty indulgence, especially topped with fresh strawberries from the farmers’ market.

    Mark, I’d be curious to hear your (or a worker bee’s) thoughts on food combining. I’ve been seeing it pop up on a few blogs that I read lately, and I’m wondering if it is something that I should pay more attention to.

  9. Great job Worker Bees! My only thoughts are the almond milk. IIRC, the 4th ingredient in that particular brand is Soy Lectin. Not sure if that is something healthy or not. I’ ve made almond milk. 2lbs almonds blanched to remove the skins. Pinch of salt, 2c water and blend in blender. Makes a paste. Add more water to make milk. Heat on stove for a bit. Let sit in a sieve overnight. Remove thick parts.

    Love the custard idea. I suppose you could omit the sugar at all and simply add a puree of some blackberries?


  10. I saw a great recipe the other day, and modified it to have no sugar.

    2 c cherries
    1 can coconut milk
    2 eggs
    1/4 c melted butter
    1 c almonds/pecans or other nuts

    pit the cherries, chop the nuts to desired fineness, beat the eggs, cook it all together 45 min at 350 in a 9×9 pan… it was just a little short on flavor, so I ate it with a bit of spiced rum poured on. I will try it with vanilla next time.

    1. “so I ate it with a bit on spiced rum poured on.”


      I like the way you use your 20%

    2. Sounds yummy! you might try adding a little natural vanilla and a pinch of salt. The salt brings out the other flavors and you could toast the nuts before chopping them.

  11. Hey, why’d you delete my post? It was on topic, even if a few other folks also jumped on the agave-hate bandwagon too.

    1. Nick, Your comment wasn’t deleted. If it included a link then it may have been caught by our automatic spam filter. Sometimes that happens. Let me see if I can find it.

      1. Ah, well, it was just a link to the article about HFCS and Agave Nectar at the Weston Price Foundation website, I’m sure anyone interested can find it easily enough with Google.

  12. I would have kept the whole milk. Almond milk is a highly processed industrial food product. (ditto on concerns over agave)

    Sounds delicious though. Good post otherwise!

    1. Almond milk and other nut milks can be made at home in a blender and with whatever nut is grown locally, making it a fresh homemade “milk” minus the industrialization. ;-)…plus it is great for people with sensitivities to dairy products, etc.

      I do not understand why humans chose to ever drink the milk of another mammal besides another human, and long after infancy anyhow…

  13. Stop blaming the worker bee … 3rd post and you didn’t edit it? It’s *your* site, dude. 😉

    Why are so many “Paleo” recipes pushing the limit with sugar, dairy or some other questionable food? How about some recipes that we can have any time, with no caveats attached?

    1. We do plenty of recipes with no caveats:

      From time to time, though, I try to provide a recipe for those that are making the Primal transition and recipes that fit within the scope of sensible indulgences.

      No question that one slipped by me, too, until right after it was posted. I had one of those “d’oh!” moments. All amended and addressed at this point, I think.

    2. Agreed on the second point. There’s got to be an indulgent food out there that we can have seconds of! Wishful thinking? It’s disappointing to see a low-carb dessert recipe only to find it contains sugar, Splenda, or some chemical I can’t pronounce.

      That said, I will probably indulge in this recipe. Halved (or thirded), in case I can’t stop myself eating it!

  14. Check out unsweetened Almond Milk for less carbs. 🙂 Surprised to see the use of agave nectar, but Mark cleared that right up! Bet this would be great with coconut milk, too.

  15. I am making vanilla pots de creme as I write this. But instead of the almond milk am using raw cream from grassfed Jersey cows. My 7 year old daughter doesn’t like milk so I am always looking for ways to get more raw dairy into her diet.

    1. LaurenB wrote:
      My 7 year old daughter doesn’t like milk so I am always looking for ways to get more raw dairy into her diet

      Just curious, why are you trying to get more (raw) dairy into her diet? Seven years old is well past weaning age.

  16. Ooh! making this this weekend with coconut milk or cream and a little “Sweet Fiber” (Luo Han Guo and inulin)

    Thanks Worker Bee!!!

  17. i just made these for a small dinner party tonight for some non primal friends (he i don’t have any local primal friends ;)) i subbed coconut milk for almond milk and added just a tiny bit of sugar.

  18. I was about to jump on this recipe because of the agave, but I see Mark has addressed it in the comments. Even more than grains, increased fructose consumption in the last three decades is likely the biggest single factor in the rising obesity epidemic.

    I personally avoid all processed fructose. While agave is touted as natural, it’s actually a heavily processed “food.”

    Pretty good summary of fructose:

  19. Hey,

    It is very heart warming to see people get excited about healthy tasty food.

    I have never been on a primal diet but I think I might start – but I do eat a lot of full fat products – this looks like an interesting alternative.

  20. awesome, all the guests loved them. I think I could have cooked them for less than the 40 mins though, may try that next time 😉

  21. I am sooo excited to try this! I love, love custard so to find this primal recipe made me happy! We tried to make it this past weekend but couldn’t find almond milk or almond flour for our primal pizza..bummer. I did find a health foods store in the town I work in that have it!

  22. If you refrigerate the coconut milk so that liquid separates, you can pour off some of that before adding eggs. It will be a thicker custard.

    I use sodium cyclamate for a sugar substitute. Too bad our FDA banned it- the rest of the world has been using it for about 50 years now with no ill effects.

    And it hasn’t any unpleasant after-taste, plus you need less of it than you do sugar.

    It helps to live in Canada since that’s where I get mine. But I believe they will mail order to the U.S.

    BTW, with cherries, use almond extract. They seem to go together.

  23. We made SoG’s variation last night, also sweetener-less:

    – 2 bananas
    – 1 can coconut milk
    – 3 eggs
    – Cinnamon

    Mix; 350 degrees for approx 45 minutes. Yum.

    We ate ours warm, though… perfect.

    1. Boom.

      Simple, direct, easy to do, no fancy-schmancy ingredients required.

      Thanks SO MUCH for posting this.

      I will probably add a little nutmeg.

  24. This is a great diet but some of you people come off like nutcase zealot elitists.

  25. I am in the middle of making my custard right now. They sure do smell good. No one is having them in my house except me!

  26. Made these several times now and they are amazing made with honey and coconut milk! I am a sucker for frozen custard and these are the perfect replacement. Thanks for a new favorite dessert!

  27. Love gleaning from everyone’s recipes. It is wonderful to have a site to visit with like minded people. Thank you for your goal to help people be aware and eat wholesome food to build health while building community. You are a role model and it is refreshing to see someone who practices what they preach.
    Gratefully, Dorinda

  28. I made this adding some coconut milk powder to the almond milk–makes it creamier without adding more liquid. I also added saffron. I sprinkled unsweetened coconut and fresh ground cinnamon on the top. Yummy!

  29. This is a wonderful recipe. I used coconut milk, and two of my goose’s fresh eggs. The custard is rich, and delicate. I tried it warm, cold, and frozen. Each way is equally delicious.

  30. The cinnamon / nutmeg, when are they to be added? They aremissing in the directions.