Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Note: This custard is a great standard recipe that can be tweaked to fit any number of dishes. It sets up firm enough that it can even be unmolded.
14 ounces (about 4 cups)
1 1/4cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2cup fresh baguette crumbs, crusts trimmed
1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Steam the cauliflower over high heat until quite tender, 7 to 10 minutes. When it's done, you should be able to crush a floret between your fingers. Undercooking the cauliflower will make the custard grainy. Remove the cauliflower from the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes. Reserve 4 florets for garnish.
2. Transfer the cauliflower to a food processor or blender and pulse several times to grind. Add the heavy cream and purée until fairly smooth but with tiny pieces of cauliflower still evident. Pulse in the eggs, salt and nutmeg.
3. Strain the mixture into a large measuring cup. Stir the purée with a rubber spatula to help it flow through the strainer, but do not press it; this will also make the custard grainy. Divide the strained purée evenly among 6 half-cup ovenproof ramekins. Discard the cauliflower remaining in the strainer.
4. Arrange the ramekins in a large roasting pan and place the roasting pan in the oven. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake in the water bath until the center of the custard just barely jiggles when the pan is shaken, 35 to 40 minutes.
5. While the custard is baking, prepare the topping. Mince the garlic. Heat a small sauté pan and melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add the garlic and bread crumbs. Cook over low heat until the crumbs turn golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside. Slice each reserved cauliflower floret into 3 pieces from top to bottom to form a floret profile. In a separate pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Cook the florets until golden brown, then remove and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
6. When the custards are cooked, remove them from the water bath and let them stand at room temperature for 10 minutes to set. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the 6 ramekins and place 2 floret slices on each ramekin. Serve immediately.