Dress up these custard cups by sprinkling each with 1/2 teaspoon sugar and broiling them until the sugar turns golden brown.
- 1/2 Cup maple syrup
- 2 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 2 Large egg yolks
- 1 3/4 Cup half-and-half
- 1/2 Teaspoon ground ginger
- Dash of salt
- Dash of ground nutmeg
- Dash of ground cloves, optional
- 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Preheat oven to 300°.
Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
Combine half-and-half and remaining ingredients in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until mixture reaches 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Gradually add hot milk mixture to egg mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan. Reduce temperature to medium, and cook until mixture thickens slightly (about 2 minutes), stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat. Strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Divide mixture evenly among 8 (4-ounce) ramekins or custard cups. Place ramekins in a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan; add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 300° for 1 hour or until center barely moves when ramekins are touched. Remove the ramekins from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill 4 hours.