For additional flavor, cook the caramel as long as possible to add an almost bitter edge to the dessert. The baked custards need to be refrigerated overnight, so plan accordingly.Plus: More Dessert Recipes and Tips
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Cook over moderate heat, without stirring, until a deep-amber caramel forms, about 10 minutes. Immediately pour the caramel into six 1-cup ramekins or custard cups and gently swirl to coat the bottoms and slightly up the sides. Set the ramekins in a small roasting pan.
Preheat the oven to 300°. In a medium skillet, toast the almonds over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. In a medium saucepan, heat the half-and-half until steaming. Remove from the heat and stir in the toasted almonds and brown sugar and let steep for 30 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the eggs and granulated sugar just until combined. Rewarm the half-and-half mixture over low heat. Gradually whisk 1/2 cup of the hot half-and-half into the eggs. Whisk the eggs into the half-and-half, then strain the custard into a pitcher. Stir the Orzata into the custard.
Pour the custard into the ramekins. Carefully set the roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven and fill the pan with enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan with foil. Bake the custards for 30 minutes, or until they are set but still slightly wobbly in the center. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and discard the foil. Let the custards cool in the water bath. Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
To unmold the custards, run a thin-bladed knife around each ramekin. Cover with dessert plates and invert. Scrape any remaining caramel over the custards and serve.
The baked custards can be refrigerated in the ramekins for up to 2 days.
Orzata is a sweet, almond-flavored syrup that is found at liquor stores and gourmet food shops.
The strong notes of almond in this rich dessert point to a botrytized Sémillon that has richness but not complexity.