Peel the ginger root and slice into small pieces. In a medium saucepan, add ginger pieces and cream. Bring just to a simmer; remove from heat and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain ginger out of cream; set aside.
Ginger, ginger root - At one time ginger was as common as salt and pepper and was frequently placed on the table. Hawaii, Fiji, and Costa Rica grow most of the world's ginger supply, which is available throughout the year. In January and February look for its pale, golden flesh; in summer and early fall look for young, baby ginger. In late fall or early winter, the harvest can come from as far away as Fiji. Ginger is thought of as a "hand" and the "fingers" are snapped off. It should feel heavy for its size. There are many types of ginger available today, including fresh and dried. As a general rule, fresh and dried ginger should not be substituted for one another in recipes, as their flavor is very different. Ginger is also available in syrup, crystallized, candied, preserved and pickled (as served with sushi).
History: The Chinese and Indians first cultivated it. It was one of the important spices that led to the opening of the spice trade routes. The name Ginger comes from the Sanskrit word "sinabera" meaning "shaped like a horn" because of its resemblance to an antler. In the 19th century it was popular to keep a shaker of Ginger on the counter in English pubs so the patrons could shake some into their drinks. This practice was the origin of ginger ale.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Adjust oven rack to center position. Butter eight (6-ounce) ramekins or custard cups and set them into a glass baking dish. Tip: Place a non-stick baking mat (called a silpat) or a tea towel on the bottom of your baking dish to both insulate and keep the ramekins firmly in place.
In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until slightly thickened. Add 3/4 cup sugar and mix until dissolved; mix in warm cream, stirring to mix well. Strain egg mixture into a bowl and skim off any foam which may have formed on top. Pour mixture into prepared custard cups.
Bring the water for the water bath to a light simmer on top of the stove; carefully pour hot water into the baking pan to come half-way up the sides of the custard cups.
NOTE: The most common mistake people make in baking a custard is not putting enough water in the hot-water bath. The water should come up to the level of the custard inside the cups. You must protect your custard from the heat. Carefully pour hot water into the baking pan to come half-way cup the sides of the custard cups.
Definition of Water Bath or Bain-Marie (bahn mah-REE) - A hot water bath or bain-marie are used to cook custards and baked eggs in the oven without curdling or cracking, and also used to hold sauces and to clarify butter. Water baths are most often used for egg-based dishes . The proteins in the eggs are very heat sensitive and only need to be warmed to cook thoroughly. They will start to get firm at only 145 degrees F. Cooking them with a slow, gentle heat keeps the eggs soft and smooth.
Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until set around the edges but still loose in the center. The cooking time will depend largely on the size of the custard cup you are using and the altitude you are at. Begin checking at a half hour and check back regularly. When the center of the custard is just set, it will jiggle a little when shaken, that's when you can remove it from the oven. Remove from oven and leave in the water bath until cooled to room temperature. If using a digital instant-read thermometer, inserted in the centers, the internal temperature should register approximately 170 to 175 degrees F. Begin checking temperature about 5 minutes before recommended time.
High Altitude Cooking: Custards with a water bath will often need additional water during the baking time. Also your custards will need a longer cooking time because the altitude causes the water to evaporate faster.
This is the type of cooking and meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking. I get many readers asking what cooking/meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking and baking. I, personally, use the Thermapen Thermometer shown in the photo on the right. To learn more about this excellent thermometer and to also purchase one (if you desire), just click on the underlined: Thermapen Thermometer.
Remove cups from water bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Finishing the Creme Brulees: Finish the custards right before serving.
When ready to serve, sprinkle approximately 2 teaspoons of remaining sugar over each creme brulee. For best results, use a small hand held propane torch. Hold the torch 4 to 5 inches from the sugar, maintaining a slow and even motion. Stop torching just before the desired degree of doneness is reached, as the sugar will continue to cook for a few seconds after flame has been removed.
If you do not have a torch, place creme brulees 6 inches below the broiler for 4 to 6 minutes or until sugar bubbles and turns golden brown. Refrigerate creme brulees at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve within 1 hour, as topping will deteriorate.
Makes 8 servings.