The secret to a crisp caramelized crust on top is to make sure the custard's surface is dry. Use paper towels to lightly dab away excess moisture before sprinkling the custard with sugar.
Oxmoor House OCTOBER 2006
1. Combine first 4 ingredients and 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium saucepan; add cinnamon sticks. Cook over medium heat 7 minutes or until hot, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 20 minutes. Discard cinnamon sticks.
2. Preheat oven to 300°.
3. Combine egg yolks, 1 tablespoon sugar, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add milk mixture, stirring with whisk. Pour custard mixture evenly into 5 (4-ounce) ramekins or custard cups. Place ramekins in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan; add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch.
4. Bake at 300° for 50 minutes or until center barely moves when ramekin is touched. Cool custards in water in pan on a wire rack. Remove ramekins from pan; cover and chill at least 8 hours or overnight.
5. Carefully pat the surface of each custard cup dry with paper towels. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar evenly over each custard. Holding a kitchen blowtorch about 2 inches from the top of 1 custard, heat the sugar, moving the torch back and forth, until sugar is completely melted and caramelized (about 1 minute). Repeat procedure with remaining custard cups. Serve immediately or within 1 hour.
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