These luxurious butterscotch custards take minutes to put together and, outside of chilling and baking time, require barely any additional effort. They’re perfect for making ahead; you can prepare them a day or two before you need them.
Storage: The baked custards can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Make ahead: The custard base can be made and refrigerated for up to 2 days before baking.
FOR THE CUSTARD
4 tablespoons (63 grams) unsalted butter
1 cup (220 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 1/2 cups (600 milliliters) heavy cream
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (360 milliliters) whole milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 large egg yolks
FOR THE COCONUT CREAM
1 cup (240 milliliters) heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup (45 grams) unsweetened coconut flakes
Make the custard: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and stir until melted and smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in 1 cup (240 milliliters) of the heavy cream and the vanilla and remove from the heat.
Into the same saucepan, whisk in the remaining 1 1/2 cups (360 milliliters) heavy cream, the milk and salt. Set the pan over medium-low heat, stirring to prevent scorching on the bottom, and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Remove the simmering cream mixture from the heat and drizzle a little bit of it into the egg yolks to temper but not cook them, whisking constantly to keep the yolks from curdling. Gradually, ladle by ladle, drizzle about half the dairy mixture into the yolks, whisking all the while. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining dairy mixture, whisking as you pour.
Strain the custard through a fine sieve and chill for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) and up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with the rack in the middle.
Pour the custard into nine 4-ounce ramekins. Arrange them in a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan and carefully pour enough boiling water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan with foil and prick all over with a fork. Bake the custards for 25 minutes, then lift up a corner of the foil to vent the steam. Re-cover the pan and continue to bake, 15 to 20 minutes more, until the custards are set around the edges (you will see a slightly darker ring around the perimeter and an opaque top) but still slightly jiggly in the center. Transfer the custards to a wire rack and let them cool to room temperature, then cover them and refrigerate overnight.
Make the coconut cream: While the cooked custards chill, in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, bring the cream and sugar to a simmer, whisking all the while to dissolve the sugar and prevent scorching on the bottom. Turn off the heat and add the coconut. Let the mixture infuse for 1 hour. Strain the coconut cream, pressing on the solids and chill until thoroughly cold, at least 2 hours and up to overnight. (Discard the solids, or toast them in a 300-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until deep brown and crispy, and use as an optional topping.)
Just before serving, using a handheld mixer or a whisk, whip the coconut cream until it holds soft peaks. Serve the custards topped with the coconut whipped cream and toasted coconut chips, if using.
Adapted from “The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern,” by Claudia Fleming with Melissa Clark (Random House, 2019).
Tested by Olga Massov; email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Calories: 550; Total Fat: 42 g; Saturated Fat: 31 g; Cholesterol: 305 mg; Sodium: 120 mg; Carbohydrates: 33 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 30 g; Protein: 4 g.