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From Diane R. Worthington, Tribune Media Services Syndicated Columnist

Makes 6 servings

3 cups heavy (double) cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
2⁄3 cup (sugar)

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Place six 3⁄4-cup ramekins in a shallow roasting pan.
  2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cream and vanilla. Cook until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for about 15 minutes to infuse the cream with the vanilla.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 1⁄3 cup of the sugar until pale yellow, 2–3 minutes. Slowly whisk the warm cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
  4. Pour the egg yolk–cream mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the ramekins, dividing it evenly. Pour simmering water into the roasting pan to come one-third of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan with aluminum foil.
  5. Bake until the custards are set but the centers jiggle slightly when the ramekins are gently shaken, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the water bath, and then lift out the ramekins. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or at most overnight
  6. Just before serving, remove the custards from the refrigerator and transfer to a baking sheet. Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift the remaining 1⁄3 cup sugar over the tops of the custards to form a thin, even layer. Using a kitchen torch, and holding it about 2–3 inches from the surface, caramelize the sugar by constantly moving the flame over the top until the sugar bubbles, about 30 seconds. Alternatively, preheat the broiler (grill). Slide the baking sheet under the broiler 3 inches from the heat source and broil (grill), turning the ramekins to cook the sugar evenly, until the tops are caramelized, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.