Kinetic Light’s Laurel Lawson Shares Her Protein-Packed Custard Bites

January 26, 2023

Laurel Lawson, a choreographic collaborator, dancer, designer and engineer with Kinetic Light, grew up in the kitchen. Her family owned a restaurant in her native Atlanta­ and, as she got older, she made her way from working the cold station to baking bread to running the grill, squeezing in shifts before and after school. “I would go off to the market with my dad, and we would get whatever looked good,” says Lawson. “There was no menu.” This skill for culinary improvisation has followed Lawson into adulthood. On tour with Kinetic Light, she doubles as the company’s in-house caterer. “During our residencies in California, I’m cooking for 10 to 12 people on a day-to-day basis,” she explains. “I’m taking one day’s leftovers and turning it into the next day’s soup. My cooking philosophy is really­ very straightforward: You start with the best ingredients you can get your hands on, and let them shine.”

female putting piece of custard in her mouth
Lawson with a custard bite. Courtesy Lawson.

Although Lawson’s daily diet consists of healthy, simple fare—roasted meat and vegetables—when it comes to dessert, she loves all things cream and custard. “The texture of a perfect crème brûlée is my happy place,” she says. Her custard bites, which she’s been developing for nearly two decades, score low on decadence and complexity and high on protein-content and ease. And like all things food for Lawson, there are endless variations. “Don’t stress the measurements too much, and feel free to experiment to your own taste,” she says, adding that the bites make a perfect high-energy snack for rehearsal the next day—if you manage to have any left over.

I’m on Tour and Don’t Have an Oven!

I have a kitchenette: Cook the mixture in a frying pan on a stovetop, like thick pancakes.
I have a microwave: Fill paper coffee cups halfway with the mixture; microwave until puffy and firm, between 45 and 85 seconds.

custard bite on spoon
Microwaved custard bite. Courtesy Lawson.

Makes 6–12 servings.
Takes about one hour to prep and bake.


• 12 eggs
• 1 cup plain, full-fat yogurt (For a creamier alternative, substitute 8 oz cream cheese and omit the fat below. For a dairy-free
version, try 8 oz soft tofu instead.)
• 1/4 cup coconut oil, butter or bacon grease
• 2/3 cup white or brown sugar (“You can up this to 1 cup for a sweeter bite, or decrease to 1/2 cup if you’re planning to top with caramel.”)
• 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
• 1 cup almond meal (“Up this to 1 1/2 cups for a thicker bite,” says Lawson, adding that you can also use almond flour, which is more finely ground and will create a more cakelike product. If you have a nut allergy, substitute cornmeal.)
• 5 big pinches of salt (“Trust,” says Lawson of the quantity. Any type of salt will do—her greater concern is that people won’t use enough.)
• Flavoring suggestions (“Try any combination—go wild!”)

bite size custard bite
Courtesy Lawson.
  • Classic: 2 splashes of vanilla extract
  • Classic and adult: 1–3 generous splashes of bourbon
  • Spiced: Sprinklings of cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg or Chinese five-spice
  • Citrusy: Generous quantities of any citrus zest


  1. Butter or spray your pan: An 8-inch round, 9-inch square, cast-iron frying pan, silicone muffin pan or ramekins all work well. Note that the thickness of the custard will determine baking time. (If using cast iron, heat the pan on the stovetop first to get a fried layer on the bottom—this will aid in removing the finished bites.)
  2. Preheat oven to 275°F.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  4. Pour carefully into pan (Pro tip: Place the pan on the oven rack first, so you don’t have to lift it when full.) Bake for 30 minutes and then start checking every 5 minutes. You’re looking for the center to wobble gently, but not slosh. Test for doneness by inserting a knife into the custard. When it comes out mostly clean, remove the pan from the oven.
  5. Let cool at least 10 minutes before turning out and cutting into squares.

Optional Toppings

Lawson’s custard bites provide the perfect base for the topping of your choice. Here are a few of her favorites.

Salted caramel: In a large pot, make a simple caramel with a couple of cups of sugar and a few splashes of water. When it gets to the soft-ball stage, throw in a stick of butter and stir until it settles down (or follow any online recipe). Add salt to taste. (“Go until you ask if it’s too salty, and then add a pinch more,” says Lawson.) Drizzle over top of cut squares, and finish with a sprinkle of Maldon Smoked Sea Salt.

Chocolate: Grate a little of your favorite dark chocolate over the top.

Fruit: Throw a dollop of jam on still-warm squares, and dig in. (“Be prepared to wash your face after,” jokes Lawson.)
Cream: Make plain whipped cream and top with berries or fresh mint. (“This is really gilding the lily—creamy goodness on creamy goodness.”)