Savory Brie Custard with Sautéed Apple
Serves 4 as a side dish
2 cups milk
2 large eggs
A pinch of grated nutmeg
6 ounces brie, rind removed, cut into small pieces
1 medium apple, peeled, quartered, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (preferably an apple that’s firm, sweet, and tart, like Crispin)
Set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter four custard cups or ramekins — they should hold between 3/4 and 1 cup each. Set the buttered cups in an 8-inch square baking pan.
Heat the milk with a big pinch of salt in a medium-sized saucepan until it’s very hot but not boiling. You should see little bubbles around the edge of the pan and maybe a little steam coming up. Remove the pan from the heat. Beat the eggs and nutmeg in a small bowl with a whisk. Keep whisking the eggs while you very slowly dribble about 1/2 cup of the hot milk into them. Then very slowly pour the egg mixture back into the pot of milk, again whisking the pot constantly. Whisk in the pieces of brie until they’re melted. Then divide the custard mixture among the four cups.
Fill a large measuring cup with very hot tap water. Open the oven door and, using a potholder, pull out the rack. Place the baking dish with the custards on the rack, and very carefully pour the hot water around the custards, making sure not to splash water in them. The water should come a little more than halfway up the sides of the cups. Gently push the rack into the oven without sloshing the water around, and close the door.
Bake the custards for 25 minutes and then check them. Look to see how jiggly they are — if there’s only about an inch in the center that jiggles, they’re done, because they’ll firm up a bit more out of the oven. If they look good, you can also test by sticking a sharp-pointed knife in half way between the center and the rim of one of the custards. If it comes out clean, then stick it in the center. It’s fine to have a little custard clinging at that site. If they’re not quite done, bake for another 5 minutes and try the jiggle test again. The custards shouldn’t take more than about 35 minutes.
Use tongs to lift the cups out the hot water and let them cool for at least 15 minutes on a rack. While the custards are cooling, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add the diced apples and a pinch of salt and sauté for about 5 to 10 minutes total. The apple pieces should be soft but not mushy, it’s fine if they’re still firm at the center. Spoon the apples on top of the custards and serve slightly warm.