Atolillo (Simple Custard)

Simple pleasures. [Photograph: María del Mar Sacasa]

Understated and unpretentious, this simple custard is a great dessert to end your day with.

Notes: The atolillo will thicken only to the consistency of yogurt, so don't expect it to be thick and pudding-like. However, since this is a starch-bound custard, once the atolillo comes to a boil you must allow it to boil for an additional 1 to 2 minutes to avoid weepy results.

Atolillo (Simple Custard)

About This Recipe

Yield:4 to 6
Active time:20 minutes
Total time:20 minutes
Special equipment:heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, strainer
This recipe appears in: Dulces: Atolillo (Simple Custard)


  • 3 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  1. 1

    Bring milk to boil on stovetop in small saucepan or in microwave-safe bowl in microwave.

  2. 2

    In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks, and salt. While vigorously whisking, add 1/4 cup hot milk to temper, then continue whisking and add remaining milk in a slow, steady stream.

  3. 3

    Add cinnamon stick and bring the mixture to boil over medium heat, whisking constantly; mixture will thicken to the consistency of yogurt. Continue to boil for 1 to 2 minutes.

  4. 4

    Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla extract. Remove and discard cinnamon stick.

  5. 5

    Strain custard into large bowl and serve warm with a dusting of ground cinnamon. Alternatively, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the atolillo’s surface and refrigerate until cold, then serve chilled.


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