Better to call this ‘Baked Velvet.’ My father had a fondness for simple, clean and comforting desserts and this was one of his favorites. A warm, baked vanilla custard brings back memories of home for me and I hope they do for you as well.
plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the insides of six (6 ounce) ramekins with cooking spray and put one teaspoon of granulated sugar in each, rolling the ramekins to let the sugar coat the bottom and sides of the ramekins. Place in a 13 by 9 cake pan and set aside.
Heat a kettle full of water until boiling. Set aside, but keep hot.
Warm the milk in a saucepan until it just barely simmers. Remove from heat.
Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl and whisk in the sugar, vanilla and salt until the sugar is dissolved.
Slowly ladle in ½ cup or so of the hot milk into the eggs and whisk until blended. Continue whisking in the milk one ladleful at a time until all the milk is used. This will prevent the eggs from curdling. Pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins. Sprinkle with a little nutmeg or cinnamon.
Put the 13 by 9 pan in the oven and pour the hot water in the bottom of the pan, being careful not to get any in the custard itself. Fill until the water comes up as high as the custard in your cups. Close the oven door and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a knife put in the center of custard comes out clean.
Remove the pan from the oven and the custards from the pan (use oven mitts, they are hot!). Allow to cool on a rack until room temp and serve for a warm treat or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours for a beautiful chilled dessert. Toss a few berries on top for a bright contrast.