Meyer Lemon Custard Cakes

Bon Appétit, February 2009

This was made for my Valentine’s Day dinner with my friend Gabriela. It was lovely. Custardy, tart, fluffy and cake-like in bits. And the creme fraîche was such a better counterpoint than traditional whipped cream ever would have been.

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 1/3 cups whole milk
2 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice or regular lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely grated Meyer lemon peel or regular lemon peel
1 8-ounce container chilled crème fraîche

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter eight 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups. Whisk 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, flour, and pinch of salt in medium bowl to blend. Combine milk, egg yolks, lemon juice, and lemon peel in large bowl; whisk until blended. Add flour mixture to yolk mixture and whisk custard until blended. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar to whites and beat until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into custard. Fold remaining whites into custard in 2 additions (custard will be slightly runny).

Divide custard equally among prepared ramekins. Place ramekins in large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake custard cakes until golden brown and set on top (custard cakes will be slightly soft in center), about 27 minutes. Chill custard cakes uncovered until cold, at least 4 hours, then cover and keep refrigerated.

Using electric mixer, beat crème fraîche in medium bowl until softly whipped.

Run small knife around each custard cake to loosen. Invert each cake onto plate. Place dollop of crème fraîche atop or alongside cakes and serve.