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Flavor this rich custard to taste with your favorite extract.
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup milk
1 cup cream, heavy or light
1 large egg + 4 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon
Set four 4-ounce ramekins or other custard cups on the counter.
To prepare the caramel: Cook the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a saucepan set over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is boiling. Cover the pan and let the syrup boil for 3 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue to cook until the sugar turns medium-amber color. Note: Keep a close watch on the pan, as the sugar will go from amber to burned very quickly. Carefully divide the syrup among the ramekins. Tilt and turn the ramekins to coat as much of the inner surface as possible with the hot syrup; it sets up quickly, so work fast. Reheat briefly in the microwave if needed. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
To prepare the custard: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the custard ingredients until the sugar is dissolved. Pour through a fine sieve to remove any lumps. Divide the custard mixture between the caramel-coated ramekins. Place the cups in a 9" x 9" (or larger) pan, place the pan in the oven, and fill the pan with hot (not boiling) water. Bake the custards for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the center of one registers 175°F on an instant-read thermometer. The custards will look set around the edges, but should have a wobbly spot about the size of a nickel in the middle. Turn off the oven and prop the door open, allowing the custards to cool in the water bath for 15 minutes. Remove from the water and cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
To serve, run a spatula around the edges of the ramekins. Flip over onto a plate and let the ramekin sit on top of the custard for a few minutes to allow the caramel to drip out. Yield: 4 servings.