Dear Angela: We loved the rich, deep caramel undertones to this crème brûlée. The restaurant serves it with whipped cream and a little chocolate sauce. Enjoy!
Caramel crème brûlée
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes, plus cooling and chilling time
Note: Adapted from Cavallo Point Lodge near Sausalito, Calif. The restaurant serves the custards with whipped cream and a little chocolate sauce.
1 1/4 cups plus 2 teaspoons sugar, divided, plus extra for topping the custards
1 teaspoon corn syrup
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
1 generous teaspoon salt
1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
2. In a medium heavy-bottom pan, combine 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and the corn syrup with just enough water to give the sugar a "wet sand" consistency. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar comes to a boil (reduce the heat as needed so the sugar does not boil over). Continue to cook until the sugar caramelizes, turning a "reddish amber" color.
3. While the sugar is caramelizing, in a small, heavy-bottom pot, combine the half-and-half, cream and vanilla and heat over medium heat, bringing to a bare simmer. Reduce the heat to low to keep the cream warm as the sugar cooks.
4. As soon as the sugar caramelizes, remove from heat and gently pour into the cream mixture (be very careful, as the sugar will steam), stirring to combine. Remove the combined caramel and cream from heat and pour the mixture into a medium bowl set over a bowl of ice water (an ice bath), stirring until it comes to room temperature. Remove from the ice bath and set aside.
5. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with the remaining 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons sugar and the salt. Whisk the yolks into the cream mixture, then strain the entire mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps.
6. Divide the mixture between 8 (6-ounce) ramekins, leaving half-inch space at the top. Place the ramekins in a baking dish, and slide the baking dish onto the center rack of the oven. Add enough boiling water to the baking dish to come halfway up the ramekins.
7. Loosely cover the baking dish with foil and bake 20 minutes. Check the custard by gently shaking the dish; if it jiggles gently (as with barely set gelatin), it is set. Otherwise, continue to bake, checking every 5 minutes until the custards are set, up to 30 to 40 minutes total.
8. When the custards are set, gently remove the baking dish from the oven, uncover the custards, and cool them (still in the baking dish) to room temperature. Remove the cooled custards from the baking dish and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least 2 hours.
9. Before serving, remove the chilled custards and sprinkle a scant teaspoon sugar over the surface of each, spreading the sugar with the back of a spoon to evenly cover the top.
10. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and place under the broiler just until the sugar melts and caramelizes, 1 to 2 minutes. Alternatively, use a small torch to caramelize the tops of each of the custards.
11. Cool the custards for 5 minutes before serving.
Each custard: 457 calories; 5 grams protein; 47 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 29 grams fat; 17 grams saturated fat; 269 mg. cholesterol; 42 grams sugar; 423 mg. sodium.