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Bay Leaf Custard & Carmelized Sugar Syrup
Yield: 6 servings

Unflavored oil
4 1/2 cups whole milk
6 fresh or 3 dried whole 2-inch bay leaves
4 extra-large eggs
1 extra-large egg white
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon white pepper, preferably not too finely ground
Pinch salt

Lightly oil six 7- to 8-ounce capacity heat-proof cups. Set cups
on trivet in steaming vessel, add hot water to come up to bottoms
and leave on stove.

Heat milk and bay leaves to simmer in heavy saucepan over medium
heat. Turn heat to low and simmer uncovered until reduced to 3
1/2 cups, about 20 minutes. Remove leaves, rinse and wipe clean.
Set 1 fresh leaf or 1/2 a dried leaf in bottom of each cup, shiny
side down. Set steamer over medium heat.

Combine eggs, egg white and Worcestershire in measuring cup. If
not 1 cup, make up difference with more egg white. Turn into mixing
bowl and whisk until blended, beating in as little air as possible
(bubbles make holes in finished custard). Slowly pour through fine
wire mesh strainer into clean bowl. Whisk in pepper and salt. Stir
while pouring mixture into cups to keep pepper grains distributed.
Pour gently, so leaf stays in place.

Lay foil over cups and cover vessel tightly. Steam, water barely
simmering, until a metal skewer emerges clean just inside edge of
cup, 17 to 20 minutes. Center should quiver slightly (eggs will
continue cooking once out of steamer). Cover cups loosely with foil
and refrigerate. May be unmolded after 4 hours or next day. When
cool, cover cups tightly.

To unmold, run thin knife around custard, against sides of cup.
Set small dish on top, turn over. If custard doesn't slip out, hold
cup in place and whack gently but firmly on counter. Scrape any
custard off leaf, remove scraps of custard and pour about 1 tablespoon
caramelized sugar syrup over top.

Yield: 1/2 cup

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup boiling water, plus a little more

Cook sugar in a broad skillet (preferably non-stick) over medium
heat, shaking skillet frequently, until sugar melts completely and
turns rich amber, about 5 minutes. Do not allow to get darker, or
syrup will be bitter. Remove from heat and cool 1 to 2 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup boiling water, stirring with wooden spoon. Cook over
low heat, stirring, until hardened caramel melts-be patient. Turn
into measuring cup and add water to make 1/2 cup. Refrigerate in
tightly covered jar.


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