Heating a creamy custard over an intense flame can scramble the eggs, and light custards made with milk are even more fragile because milk is less stable than cream. If you add sugar or any acidic ingredients to milk as it heats, it's almost sure to curdle. To keep things smooth and silky, combine sugar, egg yolks, and any flavorings separately, and gradually add hot milk to the mixture so eggs can slowly come up to the proper temperature (also called tempering), stirring the mixture constantly with a whisk.
Cooking Light DECEMBER 2010
1. Preheat oven to 325°.
2. Heat milks over medium-high heat in a heavy saucepan to 180° (do not boil). Combine brown sugar and next 5 ingredients (through egg yolks) in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk. Gradually pour 1/2 cup hot milk mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return egg mixture to pan, stirring constantly. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Stir in butter and vanilla. Cover and chill 1 hour.
3. Divide mixture evenly among 6 (8-ounce) custard cups. Place cups in a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan; add enough hot water to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake at 325° for 24 minutes or until center barely moves when cup is touched. Remove cups from pan; cool on a rack 20 minutes. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
4. Place cream and powdered sugar in a bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Top custards with cream.
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