Coffee-Caramel Pots de Creme
Arrange 6 (1-cup) custard cups or coffee cups in a shallow baking pan large enough to hold the cups without touching. Set rack in lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water, divided
In a heavy saucepan, bring sugar and 1/4 cup of the water to a boil over medium-high heat. If crystals form on the sides of the pan, cover the pan for 30 seconds or as long as 5 minutes, so steam rinses off the sides. When the sugar begins to darken, swirl the pan to even the color. When sugar is the color of iced tea, add remaining 1/4 cup water, wait for sputtering to subside, then stir to smooth out the caramel. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Make sure you don’t let the sugar turn very brown as it will no longer be sweet.
2 1/2 cups cream
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder or
instant coffee granules
2 whole eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Barely boil the cream. Slowly whisk cooled caramel into the cream. On low heat, stir until caramel and cream smooth out and heat through. Remove from heat and whisk in espresso powder or coffee granules. In large bowl with a pouring spout, whisk yolks and eggs. Gradually add caramel-cream, stirring well with a rubber spatula. Add vanilla extract and pour custard into cups, then place in oven. Pour very hot tap water into the pan to come to within 1/2 inch of the top of the custard. Bake about 35 to 40 minutes. To test for doneness, insert a knife 1 inch from the edge of the custard; it should come out clean. The center will still be jiggly, but residual heat will finish cooking the custard after it’s out of the oven. The top may develop a dark skin. Remove some of the hot water with a baster, then remove custards.