apricot crème caramel
crème caramel di albicocche
An apricot flavored custard for creme caramel.
- 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, for greasing cutter
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 whole star anise pod
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- Fine sea salt
- 1/4 pound fresh apricots, cut into 1/4-inch pieces plus 3 fresh whole apricots
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: 6 (6-ounce) ramekins, a 2-inch round cookie cutter
Heat oven to 300º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly butter the inside of a 2-inch round cookie cutter.
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon water; cook over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and, without stirring, boil mixture until it becomes a golden brown caramel, about 6 minutes; remove from heat.
Place prepared cookie cutter on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle 1 teaspoon caramel into cutter; working quickly and holding cutter in place with 1 hand, gently rotate baking sheet to spread caramel. Leave cutter in place until caramel is set, about 10 seconds. Lift cutter and repeat to make 12 discs, buttering cutter as necessary (as you work, caramel will stiffen; gently reheat over low heat to keep fluid, as necessary); set aside discs (discs can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days).
Divide remaining caramel evenly among ramekins, turning ramekins to coat bottoms. Using the flat side of a chefs knife, or a mallet, gently crush star anise pod and remove seeds; reserve seeds (save pod for another use). In a medium saucepan, combine milk, 1/2 cup sugar and seeds. Heat mixture just to a boil, then remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl; discard seeds.
In a small bowl lightly beat together eggs, egg yolks and pinch salt; whisk egg mixture into milk mixture. Combine apricot pieces, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and lemon juice in a small skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until apricots are very soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a food processor and purée until smooth, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing on and discarding solids. Add milk mixture and whisk custard to combine.
Halve and pit remaining 3 apricots. Place 1 apricot half, cut-side up, in each ramekin, then divide custard among ramekins. Arrange ramekins in roasting pan or 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Carefully add enough hot water to pan to reach halfway up sides of ramekins. Cover baking dish with foil, then, using a paring knife, make a few slits in foil. Bake in middle of oven until custard is just set (but still trembles slightly in center), 50 minutes to 1 hour.
Run a thin knife around side of each ramekin to loosen custard, then transfer ramekins to a rack and cool. Refrigerate, loosely covered, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
To unmold, place ramekins in a large skillet; add water to skillet to come up 1/4 inch. Bring water to a gentle simmer; simmer 4 minutes, then remove from heat. Remove ramekins from skillet. Invert plates over ramekins and invert custards onto plates. Serve with caramel discs.
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