Ginger Creme Brulee

The trick to producing a good brulee is simply to have a rich, unltrasmooth custard and then to melt the sugar on top of it into an ice-rink-hard, paper-thin caramel without melting the custard.  If you do not have a creme brulee iron or a very hot broiler, put the custards in a pan of ice water to keep them firm while you broil the sugar.

Note: The flavor of ginger is subtle in this dish.  I'm not into "subtle" when it comes to ginger, so I add about a teaspoon of ground ginger to enhance the flavor.

Serves 8
6 large egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Put the egg yolks, eggs, granulated sugar, and salt in a stainless steel bowl. Whisk the mixture together.

Pour the milk and the cream into a heavy-bottomed saucepot.  Add the ginger and scald the mixture.  Slowly whisk it into the egg mixture. Cool the custard base and strain it through a medium-holed strainer.

Pour the custard into the 8 ramekins.  Skim off any air bubbles.

Put the ramekins in an ovenproof pan and put it in the oven.  Fill the pan one-third to one-half full of hot water.  (It is easier to fill the pan with water when it is already in the oven.)  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake the custards for about 50 minutes. When the custards are gently shaken, they will be set around the edges yet have an area in the middle, about the size of a quarter, that will not be completely firm.

Refrigerate the custards several hours to overnight.

To serve: Preheat the broiler until it is very hot.  Sprinkle the 6 1/2 tablespoons superfine sugar over the ginger custards.  Place the custards approximately 3 inches from the broiler.*  Broil until the sugar is caramelized. Allow the sugar to harden for a couple of minutes and then serve.

*Easier yet, use a blow torch, moving the flame slowly around the surface of the custard.