- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 duck egg yolks
- 6 tablespoons unbleached sugar
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 cup unbleached sugar (for topping crème brûlée)
Preheat oven to 275° F. Butter 4 (1-cup-wide) ramekins and set them in a large, oven-safe baking dish (such as a rectangular cake pan).
Whisk duck egg yolks and 6 tablespoons sugar in a bowl until yolks are slightly thickened and pale yellow in color. Add cream and stir to combine.
Pour custard mixture into prepared ramekins. Add enough hot tap water to the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Carefully place the baking dish containing custards on the center rack of the oven. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes, until custards are just set. If the custard is still liquid in the center, bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove the baking dish from oven and let the custards cool to room temperature without removing them from the hot water. When custard is at room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator until fully chilled. Custard can be kept chilled for up to two days.
To finish custard, move oven rack to its highest position and preheat the broiler element. Remove plastic wrap from custards and top each custard with 1 tablespoon sugar. Rotate the custards to evenly distribute sugar over the surface. Place custards on a baking sheet and place under the broiler.
In 2 to 3 minutes, the sugar will have melted and caramelized, forming a crispy sugar shell atop the custard. Rotate sheetpan as necessary to uniformly caramelize sugar. Remove custards from oven and allow sugar shell to set for 1 to 2 minutes.
If crème brûlée is served immediately the custard will be warm and slightly soft. For a firmer, chilled custard, return the crème brûlée to the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes. Although the chilled custard is traditional, the sugar shell is at its best when eaten right away. Either option is delicious.