Now that we've passed Hanukkah and Christmas, we once again find ourselves with that annual dilemma, "What are we gonna do for New Year's?!!" It's a universal, right? Almost makes you want to write a song about it (inside joke!) Not sure what we are going to do--maybe a movie and dinner or do some sort of big cooking project at home and unfortunately I can't really help you with your Dec. 31st plans either, but I can tell you that making these DIVINE coffee-caramel custards will be an amazing way to ring out the old year and usher in the new!
Decadently perfect. That's what I keep thinking whenever I think of these and unfortunately I think of them far too often! Every bite is velvety smooth and lusciously filled with the tones of deep, dark caramel, rich espresso and flecks of vanilla bean. I'm not a coffee drinker--never have been, it's just too bitter for me, and yet this is hands downs one of my favorite desserts. Chic and sophisticated, these would work at your fanciest dinner party or late at night in bed watching the ball drop. Gotta love that versatility!
And the fact that they are served in individual portions, which I always find myself drawn to. Maybe it's 'cause I don't have to share?!!
Every bite is absolutely swoon-worthy and though this is a rich dessert, it's not overly sweet. The coffee and caramel balance each other out so that each bite truly hits the bliss point!! Entirely worth that extra lap around the track, if you know what I mean!!
And now I'm going to sigh off for the rest of this year. We'll be traveling for hockey and I doubt I'll get another chance to post again, so I want to wish all of you a very happy, healthy, safe and delicious New Year's! Thanks for reading and cooking and making all of this foodie stuff so much fun! I'll be back in 2018 (yikes) with more food and chatter! Have a good one everybody!!!
Makes 6 individual servings
Prep Time: About 1 hour, including cooking time but you also need to let these chill completely
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 7 large egg yolks
- 1 generous tablespoon instant espresso powder dissolved in 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Dark chocolate coffee beans for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF and place six 4-6 ounce ramekins in a roasting pan or deep baking dish. Set aside.
2. Place the sugar in a large heavy weight saucepan and heat over medium heat leaving the sugar alone until you see it melting around the edges. The use a heatproof spoon or spatula to slowly drag the liquid part into the center and gently stir until all the sugar is melted. Keeping cooking, without really stirring much, until the liquid turns dark amber and starts to foam. Do not walk away as it can go from perfect to burned in the blink of an eye! This is the caramel syrup. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the cream. It will bubble up and steam and then the bubbling will lessen. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixture and then add the pod in as well. Return the pot to the stove over low heat and stir until the hardened bits of sugar are all melted. Sometimes this can take quite a while. Don't worry--just keep heating it until it's completely smooth.
3. Place the yolks in a large bowl and whisk a bit to break them up. Slowly whisk in about 1/4 of the warm caramel mixture, whisking constantly so that the yolks don't cook. Gradually whisk in the rest of the caramel mixture, the espresso mixture, vanilla and salt. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large measuring cup or pitcher for easier handling. Remove the vanilla pod. Carefully divide the mixture between the ramekins in the pan.
4. Fill the pan with warm water so that it reached up halfway to the sides of the ramekins. Cover the entire pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for about 35 minutes, until the edges of the custards are just set and the centers are still a bit jiggly. Remove the ramekins from the water bath to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve. These are great on their own but look pretty decorated with a few chocolate covered coffee beans. They'd also be great with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and/or some chocolate shavings.
5. You can make these up to 3 days ahead and leave them chilled in the fridge until ready to serve.
Note: Recipe adapted from Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz.