1 tablespoon instant espresso
powder or instant coffee granules
2 whole eggs
Arrange 6 (1-cup) custard cups or coffee cups in a shallow baking pan large enough
to hold the cups without touching.
Set rack in lower third of the oven. Heat oven
to 350 degrees F.
Caramel: In a heavy saucepan, bring sugar and 1/4 cup of the water to a boil
over medium-high heat. If crystals form on the sides of the pan, cover the pan for
30 seconds or as long as 5 minutes, so steam rinses off the sides. When the sugar
begins to darken, swirl the pan to even the color. When sugar is the color of iced
tea, add remaining 1/4 cup water, wait for sputtering to subside, then stir to smooth
out the caramel.
Remove from heat and cool slightly. Make sure you don't let
the sugar turn very brown as it will no longer be sweet.
Custard: Barely boil the cream. Slowly whisk cooled caramel into the cream. On
low heat, stir until caramel and cream smooth out and heat through. Remove from
heat and whisk in espresso powder or coffee granules.
In large bowl with a pouring
spout, whisk yolks and eggs. Gradually add caramel-cream, stirring well with a rubber
spatula. Add vanilla extract and pour custard into cups, then place in oven. Pour
very hot tap water into the pan to come to within 1/2 inch of the top of the custard.
Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. To test for doneness, insert a knife 1 inch from the
edge of the custard; it should come out clean. The center will still be jiggly,
but residual heat will finish cooking the custard after it's out of the oven.
The top may develop a dark skin. Remove some of the hot water with a baster, then