1. Lightly coat 8 (6-ounce) custard cups or ramekins with cooking spray. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; cook 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring gently as needed to dissolve sugar evenly. Cook an additional 4 minutes or until golden (do not stir). Immediately pour into prepared ramekins, tipping quickly to coat bottoms of cups.
2. Preheat oven to 300°.
3. Heat milk, coconut, and cardamom over medium-high heat in a medium, heavy saucepan to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat; cover and let stand 15 minutes. Strain the milk mixture through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a medium bowl. Gather edges of cheesecloth together; squeeze over bowl to release moisture. Discard solids.
4. Combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar, half-and-half, salt, and eggs in a large bowl; gradually add milk mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Divide mixture evenly among prepared custard cups. Place in a roasting pan; add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 300° for 25 minutes or until center barely moves when ramekin is touched. Cool completely in water. Place plastic wrap on the surface of the custards; chill at least 6 hours. Loosen edges of custards. Invert the custard cups onto plates. Drizzle any remaining caramelized syrup over custards.