This recipe was recently published in the NY Times, and as soon as I read it there, I knew I had to try it. This is basically pure maple sugar in luxurious creamy form.
Looks almost like a créme brûlée, doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled. Adding any more sugar atop this custard would be a huge mistake. In fact, we had to make massive quantities of unsweetened whipped cream to cut through the sweetness as is.
That said, with the sweetness so tempered, the flavor was marvelous. I feel absolutely drunk on maple, having eaten this crema, and on a sugar high that is almost enough to cut through the cold that is keeping me home sick today.
(the NY Times’s adaptation from Gina DePalma of Babbo)
2 C maple syrup (ideally Grade B)
2 C heavy cream
1/2 C whole milk
6 large egg yolks
2 tsp granulated sugar
A pinch of kosher salt
Preheat your oven to 325º.
Bring the maple syrup to a boil in a very large saucepan. No, really, much larger than you think. You’ll be astonished by just how high the maple syrup froths up as it boils. Lower the heat and simmer until it is reduced to about 2/3 C.
Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the cream and milk. Return it to the heat and bring to low simmer. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks together with the sugar and salt in a large bowl. Remove the maple cream from the heat and let it cool for about 5 minutes, then very slowly whisk it into the yolks. I like to pour in about 1/2 C to temper the yolks, whisking all the while, then, still whisking, slowly pour in the rest in a steady stream. Strain through cheesecloth or a fine-meshed sieve to remove any lumps of yolk.
Arrange 4-ounce ramekins about 3/4″ apart in a large flat-bottomed roasting pan. Evenly divide the custard among the ramekins, leaving about 1/4″ space at the top. Carefully add enough hot tap water to the roasting pan to come about 1/3-1/2 of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the roasting pan lightly with foil, being careful to avoid letting the foil touch the tops of the ramekins.
Put the pan on the middle rack of your oven and bake for 35 minutes. Rotate the pan, then bake another 15 minutes or so. The custards are done when they seem basically set, and the centers jiggle only slightly.
Remove the pan from the oven, remove the foil, and let custards cool in water bath until you can safely pick them up (I adore using my silicon glove to remove them immediately from the boiling water without burning my hand). Let them cool to room temperature before refrigerating them for at least 4 hours, until thoroughly chilled.
Serve with plenty of unsweetened whipped cream. Believe me, you’ll need it to cut through the sweetness so that you can properly appreciate the flavor.