Jan's Creme Brulee With Caramelized Hazelnut Topping

3 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup milk
6 large egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Superfine sugar, for topping
1/2 cup finely chopped roasted and skinned hazelnuts

In a heavy-bottomed, medium-sized saucepan combine the cream and milk. Heat over medium heat until mixture just begins to boil, then remove immediately and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with the salt and granulated sugar.

To combine yolk mixture with cream, temper eggs by whisking a ladle of hot cream into eggs. Keep whisking and repeat with 2 or 3 more ladles of hot cream. Now whisk tempered egg mixture into hot cream.

Set pot of custard in a bowl of ice water for about 30 minutes to cool, stirring occasionally. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days, if desired.

When ready to bake, pour desired amount of custard into custard cups (6 1/2 ounces in 8-ounce ramekins makes 6 desserts).

Place filled cups/ramekins in a baking pan (or 2 pans, depending on how many cups in use) and fill pan with enough hot water to reach halfway up sides of cups. Place in a 325-degree oven and bake for 35 to 55 minutes, or until middle of custards quake just a bit when you move pan and custards are not quite set. Remove cups from pan and let cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or for up to 24.

When ready to serve (or up to 2 hours ahead), sprinkle each custard with a tablespoon of superfine sugar and caramelize with a kitchen torch. As you caramelize top of each custard, while it is still molten (do NOT test this with your fingertip), sprinkle on about 1 tablespoon of the chopped hazelnuts.

Makes 6 servings.


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