Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Julia Rutland
3 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon verbena leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
Pinch of salt
8 large egg yolks
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
How to Make It
Place 8 individual (1/2-cup) flan dishes or ramekins in 2-inch-deep baking dish or roasting pan; set aside.
Combine cream and next 4 ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Stir over medium heat 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a simmer. Cover pan, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently 10 minutes to infuse flavors.
Whisk yolks in a large bowl until smooth. Strain cream mixture into a large measuring cup. Gradually whisk hot cream mixture into yolks. Pour mixture equally into prepared baking dishes.
Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to reach halfway up sides of ramekins. Carefully place pan in oven. Bake at 325° for 30 to 35 minutes or until custard is almost set in center when pan is gently shaken.
Remove flan dishes from hot water, and cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate at least 3 hours.
Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar evenly over surface of each custard. Place ramekins on a baking sheet, and broil 5 1/2 inches from heat 3 minutes or until sugar melts. Cool on wire racks to allow sugar to harden. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
I really struggled with this recipe. First, after searching everywhere for lemon verbena leaves, I gave up and purchased a plant called lemon balm that I found at Home Depot. It was with the herbs and the leave look like mint but smell like lemon. I would definitely make a creme brulee using these leaves and lemon zest - just not this recipe. I have made creme brulee several times and have never had it come to a consistency like this one. I also didn't like using the brown sugar on top. I did use a torch instead of the broiler, so maybe that made the difference. We ended up putting white sugar on top of the carmelized brown sugar to get the usual creme brulee "shell." I really do like the idea of the flavor of this recipe - I will just add it to a different recipe in the future.
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