Gingerbread Creme Brulee

Serves 6-8


1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups half and half

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

8 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon molasses

6-8 tablespoons granulated sugar

Lightly sweetened whipped cream and chopped crystallized ginger for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300F degrees.

In a heavy medium saucepan set over medium heat, bring the cream and the half and half to a low boil, and then turn off the heat. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, egg yolks, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and molasses until well combined. Gradually add the hot mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly, until thoroughly incorporated. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat for 1 minute more, whisking constantly.

Divide the custard among 6-8 ramekins (4-6 ounce sizes work the best), filling them almost to the top. Place the ramekins in a large baking dish with deep sides, spacing them apart. Pour enough hot water into the baking dish so that it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake the custards for 30-40 minutes, or until the tops are set.

Carefully remove the ramekins from the baking dish and transfer them to a baking sheet or a tray that will fit into your refrigerator. Chill the custards until they are very cold, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat the broiler. After the custards have chilled, sprinkle the top of each with about 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Watching closely, place the ramekins under the broiler until the sugar starts to caramelize and turn golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Allow the creme brulees to rest for a few minutes, and then serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of candied ginger (optional).