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For such a fancy dessert, this is incredibly easy to make. Yes, you should use a kitchen blowtorch. Raiza Costa has a way to get that sugary, crackly topping by using a hot spoon, but I don’t know about that. Alternatively, you could broil them. I was gifted a kitchen blowtorch long ago, thank you very much. This recipe is based upon one found at foodnetwork. It’s an Ina Garten recipe from Barefoot in Paris, 2004. I first made it in 2010.

  • Ingredients
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more to sprinkle on each serving
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract or paste
  • 1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier

You will need 6 6-oz custard cups (or equivalent); a baking pan to place the custard cups in (mine is 10×15″); a tea towel; boiling water for the bain-marie; a kitchen blowtorch.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Mix egg yolks, egg, and sugar together until just combined. Scald cream in a saucepan until it’s very hot to the touch, but not boiling. Slowly add the cream to the egg mixture, stirring well. Add the vanilla and Grand Marnier. Pour into the custard cups.

Prepare a bain marie by placing a tea towel on the bottom of your baking pan and setting the custard cups on top of the towel. Pour boiling water into the baking pan until it comes about half way up the sides of the custard cups. Carefully move the baking pan into the oven.

Bake at 300 degrees F for 35-40 minutes, until the custard is set when gently shaken. Remove the cups from the water, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

Prior to serving, sprinkle sugar across the top of each custard and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar caramelizes. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens. Serves 6.

Notes: I use vanilla paste instead of extract and that’s why you see tiny black specks. I have eaten this warm, without the sugar topping, and it’s wonderful. I’ve used a combination of 4-oz custard cups and soup mugs and other assorted sizes of dishes — just remove the smaller ones from the bain marie first, then remove the others as they set.