These gorgeous and very simple little desserts are somewhat like crème caramel or French ‘flan’. The brown sugar adds a delicious, rich, toffee-ish flavour. You can even bake them in little espresso cups. Makes 4 x 100ml (3.5 fl.oz) cups or ramekins.
Preheat the oven to 170ºC (325°F), Gas mark 3.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Add the brown sugar and mix well.
Place the milk, cream and orange zest (if using) into a saucepan and bring up to simmering point. Remove from the heat and gradually pour onto the egg and sugar mixture, whisking all the time. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a large jug and skim off any froth from the surface.
Place the cups or ramekins in a baking dish or wide shallow pan and fill them up with the custard. Pour enough hot water into the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the cups or ramekins (known as a bain-marie) and cover with foil. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the custards are just set in the centre.
Remove the custards from the baking dish and serve warm or allow to cool. Either way, sprinkle a little bit of extra brown sugar on top just before serving.
If you wish, use a kitchen blow torch to caramelise, or ‘brûlée’, the brown sugar on top for a lovely crunchy surface.
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