In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the orange zest, milk,
cream and cinnamon stick. Heat until small bubbles appear at the
edge of the pan, then remove from the heat. Let stand for 1 hour
to develop the flavors.
In a small, heavy saucepan over low heat, combine 1 cup of the
sugar and the water. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a
boil over high heat. Boil, without stirring, until the liquid is
golden brown, 6-8 minutes. Carefully pour the hot syrup into the
bottoms of eight 1-cup ramekins or custard cups, immediately tilting
and swirling the dishes to coat the bottoms and sides with the caramel.
Place the dishes in a large baking pan. Set aside. Preheat an oven
to 325 degrees F.
Strain the cream mixture through a sieve into a clean saucepan.
Warm over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles appear along the edge
of the pan. (Do not allow to boil.)
Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks
and the remaining 1 cup sugar until frothy. Gradually beat in the
hot cream mixture, a little at a time. Stir in the vanilla, and
then the wine, if using. Strain the mixture through a sieve into
the caramel-lined dishes, dividing it evenly.
Pour hot water into the baking pan to reach halfway up the sides
of the custard cups. Cover the pan with foil and place in the oven.
Bake until a knife inserted in the center of a custard comes out
clean, about 30 minutes.
Remove the baking pan from the oven and remove the dishes from
the pan. Let cool for 30 minutes, then cover and refrigerate until
Just before serving, carefully run a knife around the inside edge
of each custard and invert into individual shallow dessert bowls.
Pour any extra caramel in the dishes over the custards and serve.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Owen. All rights reserved.