This classic version of one of France's signature desserts is surprisingly easy
2 cups heavy cream (or 1 cup half-and-half and 1 cup heavy cream)
5 tablespoons sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
sugar (Demerara or coarse white sparkling sugar work well)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Pour the cream into a 1-quart saucepan, and heat the cream just until it almost
comes to a boil. Remove it from the heat.
Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until the sugar dissolves.
Add the hot cream a little at a time; mix well.
Stir in the vanilla bean paste.
Pour the custard through a fine sieve or strainer, and pour it into four heart
molds, or 1/2-cup capacity ramekins about 2" tall.
Place the molds or ramekins in a large baking pan. Pour enough hot water into
the pan to come halfway up the sides of the dishes.
Bake until the custard is set but still a bit jiggly in the center, about 30
Remove the dishes from the water and let cool completely.
Refrigerate for 1 to
2 hours, or up to overnight; no need to cover.
To serve, sprinkle the sugar evenly over the custards. For easiest caramelizing,
run a torch evenly over the tops of the custards until the sugar is a deep golden
brown. Or caramelize the sugar by placing molds or ramekins under your oven's broiler;
watch carefully, as a broiler element can turn sugar from browned to burned quickly.
Hands-on time: 20 mins. to 30 mins. Baking time: 28 mins. to 35 mins. Total
time: 1 hrs 48 mins. to 2 hrs 48 mins. Yield: 4 servings
Recipe and photo credit:
King Arthur Flour - kingarthurflour.com.