This is the easiest custard. Thirty minutes to bake, at least another 20 minutes to chill, but only about 10 minutes to whip up. And there's only four servings so you're not left eating dessert all week (bad for the body, if good for the soul). The taste is admittedly more vanilla than caramel, and I was hoping for the caramel. I wonder if a good brulee-ing would solve that. Next-day perspective tip: Let them chill for several hours if you have the time and patience. They're more delicious when very cold.
Don't stir your sugar-and-water mixture, or crystals might develop and ruin the whole batch. We even put the lid on it for insurance (when making caramel, that helps baste the sides with moisture). When the caramel is dark enough, add your milk and cream.
That's added to the eggs; slowly, so the eggs come up to temperature and don't get shocked into cooking.
I think the recipe tells you to skim off the bubbles because they prevent a smooth surface.
Pour them in your ramekins, add boiling water to the pan, and bake. Easy, right? I, um, couldn't find my fourth round ramekin, so I substituted a heart-shaped one.
Forget about unmolding them onto a plate. It doesn't work -- I tried. They don't develop a crust like souffle does or have a syrup barrier like flan does to slide them out. The little ramekins are cute, anyway.
From Martha Stewart Living, May 2010 Issue
⅓ cup sugar
¼ cup plus 1 tbs water
¾ cup whole milk (I cheated and used the 1% we had; works fine)
¼ cup heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325°. Heat sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally, until deep amber, about 7 minutes. Carefully whisk in milk and cream.
Whisk together yolks, vanilla, and ¼ tsp salt. Slowly pour caramel-milk mixture into yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Skim any bubbles from the top. Divide evenly among four 6-ounce ramekins.
Set ramekins in a 9-inch square baking dish. Pour boiling water into dish to come a third of the way up sides of ramekins. Bake until custards are just set but jiggle slightly, 27 to 30 minutes. Remove from water using tongs. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.