On a recent visit to A.O.C., Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila was impressed with this “incredible dessert” that she describes as being “like a very rich flan flavored with maple syrup.” The accompanying pecans are candied with maple syrup too, making pastry chef Roxana Jullapat’s creation even more irresistible.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan and toast for about 8 minutes.
Transfer the warm pecans to a bowl and drizzle with the oil. Toss to make sure the pecans are completely coated with oil. Sprinkle in the salt and maple sugar and toss again. Drizzle the maple syrup into the bowl and toss well.
Arrange the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 7 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Put the sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed pot and cook on medium-high heat to a golden brown caramel, about 15 minutes.
Pour the caramel into 10 (4-ounce) ramekins, swirling so that the caramel coats the bottom of each ramekin. Allow to cool so that the caramel sets.
Combine the maple syrup, eggs and vanilla extract in a blender. Pour the evaporated and condensed milk into a large bowl. Vigorously whisk in the maple syrup mixture until it is fully combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins.
Place the ramekins in a baking pan filled halfway up the sides with water. Cover the pan and ramekins with foil and bake until the custards are just set, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and the ramekins from the water bath. Allow the custards to cool, then chill them, covered, in the refrigerator. The custards can be made up to several days ahead.
To serve, invert to unmold the custards, letting the caramel spill out over the top. Crush some maple pecans and scatter them, along with some whole pecans, over and around each creme caramel.