Sage Custard with Coffee Caramel and Plum Sauce

Andrea Lekberg

The Artist Baker, Morristown, NJ

Pastry chef Andrea Lekberg describes this custard as a slightly denser version of flan. The dessert takes a total of three days to make, so be sure to plan ahead.


  • Sage Custard:
  • 2 cups (one 16-ounce can) evaporated milk
  • 6 large sage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Coffee Caramel:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons warm coffee
  • Wild Plum Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup plum jam (preferably made from wild plums)
  • 2 tablespoons hot water


To make the sage custard, combine the evaporated milk and sage leaves in a saucepan over high heat. Heat until bubbles begin to form along the edge of the pan, then remove from the heat. Cover and let steep overnight in the refrigerator.

The following day, combine 1/4 cup of the sugar and the water in a small pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook the mixture, swirling the pan but not stirring, until it reaches a golden caramel color, about 7 minutes. Pour into a 7-inch soufflé dish and let cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Bring a large pot or teakettle of water to a boil to use for a water bath.

Strain the sage-infused evaporated milk into a medium pot and add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Bring just to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Slowly add the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Keep whisking for a few minutes to cool down the mixture slightly. Strain and pour over the layer of caramel in the soufflé dish.

Place the soufflé dish in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Carefully fill the baking pan with hot water from the teakettle until it’s halfway up the sides of the soufflé dish. Bake until the custard jiggles very slightly when gently shaken, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool in the water bath. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

To make the coffee caramel, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan; stir to completely dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue boiling, swirling the pan but not stirring, until the mixture reaches a golden caramel color, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the butter. Remove from the heat, add the cream, and stir to combine. Stir in the coffee. Reserve.

To make the wild plum sauce, combine the plum jelly and the hot water; mix until smooth.

To serve, run a knife along the edge of the chilled custard and unmold onto a large serving plate. On individual serving plates, place a dollop of plum sauce and top with a slice of custard. Drizzle with a little coffee caramel.


8 servings