Heat milk over medium-high heat in a small heavy saucepan to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat. Add rind and cinnamon; cover and let stand 30 minutes. Discard rind and cinnamon.
Combine 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add 1/4 cup milk to sugar mixture, stirring until smooth. Return milk mixture to pan; cook over medium-low heat 7 minutes or until almost thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Place egg yolks in a small bowl. Gradually pour one-third of hot milk mixture into yolks, stirring constantly with a whisk. Carefully return yolk mixture to pan. Cook over low heat 4 minutes or until a thermometer registers 180°, stirring constantly with a whisk. Divide custard evenly among 6 (4-ounce) custard cups; press plastic wrap against surface of custard. Chill at least 4 hours.
Remove plastic; discard. Sprinkle remaining 3 tablespoons sugar evenly over custards. Holding a kitchen blowtorch about 2 inches from the top of each custard, heat the sugar, moving the torch back and forth, until sugar is completely melted and caramelized (about 1 minute). Serve immediately or within 1 hour.
Delicious - and so low in calories compared to a creme brulee. I steep the cinnamon and lemon rind in the milk while it is heating to deepen the flavor. Also, lacking a blow torch I just stick the custards under the broiler just before serving to carmelize the sugar - this works fine -and I have used brown sugar as well with good results.
This is basically an unbaked Creme Brulee. The flavor, directions, and ease of prep was there. There was however, too much time spent in prep. I'd prefer this recipe as a pudding [minus sugared topping] or just make Creme Brulee instead. Probably will not make again.
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