MAKES SIX 1/2-CUP SERVINGS
Soothing and with a lush velvet texture, this custard dish from home can be dressed up with fresh or poached fruit. It is an elegant dessert for company and can be made a day ahead. Baking the custard in a water bath insures even heat and the result is a creamy consistency.
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups milk
1 cup non-fat Half- &-Half
1/2 cup sugar
2-inch piece vanilla bean, split
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Lightly spray 6 custard cups (3 X 1 1/2-inches) with butter spray and place them in a baking pan large enough to hold them with space between each one. Set aside.
Lightly whisk the eggs together in a 2-quart bowl with a pourable spout, if possible. Set aside.
Pour the milk and Half- &-Half into a 1-quart saucepan. Stir in the sugar. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pot add the bean and salt. Bring the milk mixture to just under the boil. With a spoon remove the vanilla bean. (Dry the bean and save it for another use.)
Whisk 1 cup of the milk mixture into the eggs. Then whisk in the remaining milk mixture.
Pour and divide the mixture among the custard cups. Pour hot water carefully three quarters of the way up the side of the baking pan, being careful not to get water into the custard cups. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or just until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cups from the baking pan and allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Serve as is with sliced fruit or berries on top or unmold each one onto a dessert dish and serve with poached fruit or coulis.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA PRONTO by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2005.
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