Lemon Creme Brulee
Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2005.
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
3 teaspoons grated lemon peel (about 2 lemons’ worth)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
3 large egg yolks
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 teaspoons golden brown sugar, stirred to break up any lumps
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Arrange four 3/4-cup ramekins in a 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan. Bring the cream to a simmer with the lemon peel in a heavy small saucepan. In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon juice and yolks together until thick, about 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the hot cream mixture (careful – you don’t want to scramble the eggs!), then the vanilla and the salt. Let the mixture stand 10 minutes, then strain the custard into a large liquid measuring cup and pour into the ramekins. Place the ramekins in the baking pan and pour enough hot tap water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake the custards until just set in center, about 55 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven, carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath, let cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes, then chill uncovered until firm, at least 3 hours.
Preheat the broiler and place the ramekins on a baking sheet. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly across the top of each of the custards. Broil until sugar melts and browns, about 2 minutes (check often as it can burn quickly – and sometimes there are hot spots under the broiler; you may have to shuffle the cups around to get them evenly browned.) Chill until topping is hard and crisp, at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours.