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Maple Crème Brulee

From Bistro Cooking at Home, Gordon Hamersley

1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
1 large whole egg
4 large egg yolks
½ cup maple syrup
Pinch of kosher salt
1 to 1 ½ tablespoons sugar

If using a vanilla bean, cut it in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and add it, as well as the pod halves, to the cream in a medium saucepan. Bring the cream to a boil and then remove it from the heat.

COMBINE the whole egg, the yolks, and the sample syrup in a medium mixing bowl. Slowly whisk about ½ cup of the hot cream into the eggs and wait a minute for the eggs to temple. Then whisk in the remaining cream and salt. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the vanilla bean and any bits of stray egg that may remain. If using vanilla extract, add it to the strained custard.

HEAT the oven to 300ºF. Divide the custard evenly among 4 ramekins. Put the filled ramekins into a baking pan or roasting pan and pour enough hot water into the pan to come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the custards in the center of the oven until the custards are just set with a slight jiggle in the center, 50 to 55 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and remove the ramekins from the water bath. Cool a room temperature for about 30 minutes before refrigerating for at least 4 hours.

Just before serving, sprinkle the custards with enough sugar for a complete, even coating, about 1 teaspoon each, then caramelize the sugar with a blowtorch or under the broiler.