There is something exquisitely comforting about custard, in all its forms. Puddings, flans, cream pies, creme brulees. Whether warm or cold, the creamy softness feels as good as it tastes. Creme brulee, with its crispy top as a foil for the smooth filling, is an especially pleasant dessert.
Here is another custard dessert with a surprise topping. Unlike creme brulee, that is cooked in two steps, this one requires only one. In fact, it is baked upside down, the topping revealed when the dish is inverted on a dessert plate. By the way, this is an excellent dessert to serve to guests because it must be prepared at least 5 hours in advance.
Here’s the recipe: (from an old Food and Wine magazine or cookbook, the recipe by Lee Bailey.)
1-2 T. butter
1/4 c. plus 2 T. honey
12 gingersnaps (broken into fine crumbs)*
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 c. sugar, plus 2 T.
2 1/2 c. milk
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter (6) half-cup custard cups. Spoon 1 T. honey in the bottom of each. Sprinkle the gingersnap crumbs evenly over the honey. Place in 9 x 13 baking pan.
2. Whisk eggs. Whisk in sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir in milk to blend thoroughly and dissolve most of the sugar. Strain into cups. Fill almost to the brims. (The gingernsap crumbs will rise to the surface.) Pour hot water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the custard cups.
3. Bake 30-45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center of the custards comes out clean. Let cool in the pan with water. Then refrigerate at least 4 hours.
4. Run a knife around the edge of the custards and invert onto a dessert plates, coating the custards with the liquid in the bottom of each cup.
* I put the broken gingersnaps into a plastic freezer bag and roll the bag with my rolling pin to make the crumbs. You could use a processor if you want.