Lemon Verbena Custards

*Lemon Verbena Custards*
Makes 6

The perfect summer pudding and a great way to use some of the Lemon Verbena in the garden.  It imparts a beautiful herbed lemon flavour to these delicious baked custards!

several large handfuls of lemon verbena leaves (lots!)
500ml of single cream (2 1/4 cups)
the finely grated zest of one lemon
6 medium egg yolks (you can freeze the whites to make meringues at another time)
50g of caster sugar plus more to taste (1/4 cup)
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*F/ gas mark 3.   Have ready a roasting tin and 6 medium sized ramekins.  Boil the kettle.

Place the cream into a large saucepan along with the lemon verbena and the lemon zest.  Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for 15 to 20 minutes.  Strain out the solids at the end of that time.  Whisk together the egg yolks.  Strain some of the cream mixture into them, whisking constantly to temper the eggs.  Whisk in a bit more and then whisk the tempered mixture back into the cream.    Whisk in the sugar and a pinch of salt.  Taste and add more sugar if needed. 

Place the ramekins into the roasting tin.   Divide the cream/egg mixture evenly between them.   Place on the middle shelf of the heated oven.  Add boiling water carefully to the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until the custards are set with a gentle wobble in the middle.

Serve warm with some summer fruits or jam.

Note:  You can substitute the verbena with half a scraped vanilla pod if you wish.  Or for a spicy twist you can infuse the cream with 3-4 bruised cardamom pods, a cinnamon stick, half a fresh nutmeg grated and/or 20 to 3 whole cloves.