"On an idyllic spot in the heart of the medieval town of Sirmione, with a terrace overlooking Lake Garda, is Ristorante Signori, where we take our students on the last day of our cooking course in Italy. We have been going there since we opened our school in 2000 so that our students can taste the flavors of the extraordinary freshwater fish from Italy’s largest lake. The finale is an exquisite crema bruciata, which is the Italian equivalent of crème brûlée. It is a coffee-flavored, smooth-as-silk, heavenly dessert that my wife and I look forward to every time we go there. Finally, after many years, the chef agreed to give me his recipe." —Chef Giuliano
Preheat the oven to 325° F on the regular bake setting.
Put the cream and milk in a 1- to 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Once steam is released when the liquid is stirred, remove from the heat.
Put the egg yolks and ? cup sugar in a bowl and whip with an electric mixer until pale yellow and custardlike in consistency. Slowly add the warm milk and cream while whisking on low speed. Mix in the coffee and transfer to 4 individual-size ovenproof ramekins. Place them in a baking dish and pour enough water in the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins, being careful not to splash any water into the custard. Place the baking dish in the oven and cook for 40 minutes. When ready, the custard should jiggle only slightly when moved. Remove the ramekins from the water bath, and once they are cool, place them in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, sprinkle each custard with a teaspoon of sugar, using a fine-mesh strainer or sifter to distribute it evenly. Ignite the blowtorch and move the flame back and forth over the sugar until it has browned evenly. Place the ramekins back in the refrigerator and chill completely before serving.
"I am perfectly happy to eat it without the burnt-sugar topping; in fact, I even prefer it that way. But to make it the way it was intended, you’ll need a culinary blowtorch, which is easily obtainable in most kitchen-supply stores and rather fun to use. I tried just using my broiler, but by the time the sugar browns, the custard has heated too much and loses some of its fine, silky texture." —Chef Giuliano
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