In Maura Kilpatrick’s version of crème caramel (a custard baked in a mold, then unmolded and glazed with caramel), the secret ingredient is crème fraîche, which adds sweet-tangy lushness. Slideshow: More Excellent Desserts
Preheat the oven to 300°. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of the sugar with 1/4 cup of water and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Cook undisturbed until a deep-amber caramel forms, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of water to stop the cooking. Immediately pour the hot caramel into eight 1/2-cup ramekins. Set the ramekins in a large roasting pan.
In a small saucepan, melt the crème fraîche over low heat. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the whole egg and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Whisk in the crème fraîche, heavy cream and salt. Strain the custard into a large glass measuring cup and pour into the ramekins.
Set the pan in the center of the oven and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan with foil and poke several holes in the top. Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the custards are set around the edges and just jiggly in the center. Let the custards cool in the water bath, then remove from the water. Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and refrigerate the custards overnight.
Run the blade of a thin knife around the inside of each ramekin to loosen the custards. Invert the custards onto plates, tapping the plates lightly on the table to release the custards. Pour any extra caramel from the ramekins on top and serve.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated for 3 days.