Served at Hamiltons' at First & Main restaurant, Jeanette Peabody's coffee-flavored crème brûlée is delicate, light and custardy, with a crackly sugar top.
1 quart half-and-half
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
10 large egg yolks
Pinch of salt
1 cup strong-brewed espresso
1/4 cup light brown sugar
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 300°. In a medium saucepan, combine the half-and-half, sugar and vanilla bean and seeds and bring to a simmer.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks with the salt. Very gradually whisk in the hot half-and-half mixture, then whisk in the espresso.
Arrange eight 8-ounce ramekins in a roasting pan and fill them with the custard. Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and carefully add enough boiling water to the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the custards for 1 hour, until jiggly in the center but set around the edges. Let cool for 10 minutes in the water bath, then carefully transfer the ramekins to a rack and let the custards cool slightly. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Preheat the broiler. Return the ramekins to the roasting pan and fill the pan with ice. Add enough cold water to the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Use a paper towel to blot any damp spots on the surface of each custard. Using a coarse sieve, sift about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the light brown sugar over each custard. Broil the custards 4 inches from the heat for 20 seconds, or until the sugar is bubbling. Let cool until the sugar hardens, then serve.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
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