1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 Tbsp. dark muscovado sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. demerara sugar
4 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Set an oven rack in the middle position, and preheat the oven to 300?F.
In a small heavy saucepan, combine cream, muscovado sugar, and salt. Place
over medium heat and bring just to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, combine water and demerara sugar in a medium (2-quart) heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and bubbly, about 5 minutes. (To gauge the color of the mixture, it may help to tilt the pan a little, so that the liquid pools on one side.) Remove from the heat and carefully add the cream mixture, whisking until combined.
In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and vanilla. Add hot cream mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a 1-quart glass measuring cup, and pour the custard through the sieve. Skim off any foam with a spoon.
Divide the custard among four (4-ounce) ramekins or other oven-safe vessels. Select a baking dish, one large enough to hold the ramekins without any of them touching. Fold a dish towel to line the bottom of the baking dish; this will protect the delicate custards from touching the hot bottom of the pan. Arrange the ramekins in the pan. Seal the top of each ramekin with a piece of aluminum foil to prevent a skin from forming as they bake.
Slide the pan into the oven, and immediately pour hot tap water into the pan to reach halfway up the side of the ramekins. Bake until the custards are set around the edges but still jiggle lightly in the centers when shaken, like firm gelatin, about 40 minutes. (You?ll have to move the foil to see this.)
Using tongs, transfer the ramekins to a rack. Discard foil tops and cool to room temperature. The custards will continue to set as they cool. Refrigerate for a
couple of hours, or until you?re ready to serve them.
Serve plain or topped with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.
This custard gets its deep, warm flavor from the two special sugars: muscovado and demerara.
For the ater-and-demerara step, be sure to use a light-colored saucepan so you can see the color of the mixture as it caramelizes.
Note: These are best on the first day, but they?ll keep, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated, for up to two days. The texture slowly declines and they develop a thin skin on top.