Preparation time: 30 minutes, Cooking time: 30-40 minutes, Chill time: 1 hour, Yield: 6 servings
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups sweetened flake coconut
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar*
- Tip: To make your own superfine sugar, grind granulated sugar in a food processor.
Preheat oven according to the chart. Place coconut flakes on a cookie sheet, and toast for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Be careful when opening the oven door to remove the coconut as the oils may burn your eyes.
In a heavy saucepan, heat the heavy cream. Add the toasted coconut. Remove from heat and set aside, letting the toasted coconut steep in the cream for about 10-15 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine egg yolks, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Whisk until just combined. Strain coconut out of cream into a bowl, then slowly whisk together cream into egg mixture. Be sure not to add it too quickly at the beginning, because it will cause the yolks to curdle.
Place six 6-ounce broiler-proof custard cups in a 3-quart rectangular baking pan. Pour egg mixture evenly into dish and carefully transfer to preheated oven. Pour enough hot water into the baking pan around the custard cups to reach halfway up the sides of the dishes. This will act as a buffer to slowly cook the custard without browning. You want the crème brulée to be set but not cooked. Bake until only about a dime-sized piece in the center of the custard still shakes. Remove from the water bath and cool on an oven rack. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour up to overnight.
Before serving, let custard stand at room temperature for 20 minutes - this will help prevent the dishes from cracking during the "brulée." Sprinkle an even layer of superfine sugar over the surface of the custard, using an index finger to fill it in. Set oven to Standard broil on HI and set the oven rack on position 4 (counting from the bottom up). Place custard cups with brown sugar on them on a cookie sheet. Place pan in the center of the rack under the broiler, and broil for 4-5 minutes, or until the top browns and creates a hard shell over the custard. Serve immediately.