I’ve always liked Grape-Nuts cereal. I’ve never understood what it has to do with grapes or with nuts, but it’s crunchy and kind of adorably tiny and it’s got a nice mellow flavor. I’ve been eating it since I was a kid but I’ve never thought to use it in a recipe, and until I happened upon this recipe card in a vintage recipe tin, I’d certainly never heard of Grape-Nuts Custard. It turns out to be a soft, sweet and slightly nutty custard that’s simple but comforting.
When I found this old tin of handwritten recipe cards, I wanted to give the recipes enclosed a new lease on life and decided to cook my way through them. I call it the Recipe Tin Project. It’s a treasure trove of old recipes, with everlasting classics like Chocolate Cake and Chicken Casserole and not so timeless creations like Jellied Chicken Gumbo, which was my first project endeavor. To read more about the contents of the tin and the project, you can go to the first post here.
I was intrigued by the idea of Grape-Nuts Custard and enamored with the sweet illustration and shaky handwriting on the card. Since I hadn’t heard of it before, I looked up this custard to see if it was an obscure family recipe or if it was something that was popular in that era. Low and behold, it turns out that Grape-Nuts have been around since 1897 and a recipe for Grape-Nuts custard appeared in a magazine as early as 1901. In the ’20s, it became popular throughout New England, so I guess it’s been a classic all along and I just didn’t know about it!
I can see why it has endured. The Grape-Nuts sink to the bottom (while a few float up to the top) and create a soft sort of crust while providing a nice contrast to the just-sweet-enough eggy custard. It’s delicate and simple and a little whipped cream and cinnamon or nutmeg sprinkled over the top is just the right touch.
The original recipe from the card is below, though I’ve expanded the instructions a bit just to make things easier. I also amended the baking time because mine took closer to 50 minutes to bake, though the card called for 40-45. You can play with the amount of Grape-Nuts here; I felt that it could stand a few more, so you might try upping them to a 1/2 cup for a little more texture if you’re so inclined.
I’m so glad I happened upon this recipe card. While this classic may be new to me, it’s familiar to many, and for good reason. You should give it a try!
Grape-Nuts Baked Custard
- 2 cups milk, scalded
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1/3 cup Grape-Nuts cereal
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- In a medium bowl, combine eggs, sugar, and salt. Gradually add milk, mixing until thoroughly combined. Then, add vanilla and Grape-Nuts and stir until incorporated.
- Pour mixture into an 8x8-inch baking dish. Make a hot water bath by placing the baking dish in a large roasting pan filled with 2-inches of hot water. (You want water to come halfway up the outside of the custard dish.)
- Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. "Serve plain or with cream or cool whip."