Imagine a creamy rich, double cappuccino, in custard and burnt sugar form, and you have this dessert. I've made these coffee custards several ways, including steeping freshly ground beans in the cream before proceeding with the recipe. I truly love this simplified and SIMPLE recipe just as much. Here, there is no steeping, just stirring. We use 2 ounces of very strong espresso ground coffee (I love Lavazza ), versus an actual extraction of espresso, as not everyone has or wants to use an espresso maker. To level up the custard to anything but ordinary, I use vanilla bean extract (or vanilla), a brilliant coffee extract by Watkins, a touch of cocoa/cinnamon, and lightly sweetened whipped cream. This is a memorable dessert, and I love how the assertiveness of the coffee matches the richness of the egg yolks and cream. Put it on repeat, people love it! All simple techniques, with big flavor pay-off!
A note about how to "brûlée"custard. Brûlée means burnt, and the slightly smoky crunch is a lovely texture and flavor contrast with the creamy custard. To burn the sugar, sprinkle each ramekin with granulated white sugar. I don't feel the need to use superfine sugar. You may also use turbinado sugar, which will give off a subtle molasses taste. Using a torch, perform circular motions until the sugar bubbles and browns slightly.
If you are not eating the dessert until later, refrigerate WITHOUT topping with the sugar; to serve, allow to come close to room temperature, top with sugar, and brûlée. This is customary, but I also like to serve it warm.
Prep Time: 15 minutes Yield: 6 servings
Preheat Oven to 325 degrees.
2 ounces of very strong coffee, at room temperature (you may use espresso, noting the bolder flavor)
1 3/4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon pure coffee extract (I use Watson's, found at most grocery stores.)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
5 large egg yolks
dash of salt
dash of ground cinnamon
dash of ground cocoa
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for dusting generously before broiling
In a 1 quart saucepan, over medium high heat, warm the cream until just simmering. Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in the coffee, coffee extract, and vanilla bean paste.
Put aside to cool slightly while you prepare the egg yolk mixture. A film may develop over the cream, no worries, that will simply be stirred in when you proceed.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 1/3 cup sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cocoa. Continue to whisk vigorously for a few minutes, until the sugar has been completely dissolved.
In stages, whisk the warm cream mixture into the egg mixture, being careful to not mix too much hot liquid too quickly, or you may scramble the eggs. Whisk until smooth and creamy.
Pour the custard into six 4 ounce ramekins, filling 2/3 full. (I pour the custard into a lipped glass quart measuring jar, then pour into the ramekins.) Place the ramekins in a 13x9 inch baking pan, pouring in enough water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. I found no difference in using tap water and boiling water, except tap water was much easier! This is your water bath, or "Bain marie".
Bake 35-40 minutes, or until almost set in the center. Remember cooking times vary based on ramekin. Remove ramekins from pan, let cool, brûlée, and serve. Or alternately, refrigerate for several hours before browning the sugar and serving.
A few general notes:
1. Another option to stovetop cooking is to microwave the cream in a microwave safe bowl, just until simmering, and proceed.
2. I have provided links for products that I use. I never recommend a product that I do not personally own or use myself.
3. The size ramekin determines the cooking time for the custards. For the traditional 4 inch wide by 2 inch deep ramekin, bake 35-40 minutes, or until just set (custard will continue to cook as it cools). Cooking time is less with the larger width, but more shallow ramekins.