It's the final push between cookies for Santa and feasts for the family -- give your holiday the sweet send-off it deserves. These festive custard cups are worthy of Christmas dinner (and even easier when made with frozen puff pastry). If you're not sure if your cups are ovenproof, use ordinary six-ounce glass custard dishes.
7 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
2 cups milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably fresh grated
1 recipe Lucinda Scala Quinn's Pate Brisee
1 tablespoon, plus 1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon rum
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1. Put 6 egg yolks and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until thick and pale yellow, and a ribbon formswhen beaters are lifted, about 5 minutes. Add flour; beat until combined.
2. Meanwhile, bring milk, vanilla, and nutmeg to a boil in a 2-quart stainless-steel saucepan over medium-high heat. With mixer running, pour about one-quarter milk mixture into egg mixture. Slowly add egg-milk mixture to saucepan with remaining milk. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and bubbles in center, 4 to 5 minutes. Pour through sieve into a medium bowl. To prevent a skin from forming, press plastic wrap directly onto surface of custard. Let cool, 30 to 45 minutes. When cool, refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 2 hours.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut into eight 6-inch squares. Place squares into ovenproof ceramic cups, allowing excess to drape 1 to 1 1/2 inches over edges. Repeat with remaining cups.
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4. Mix remaining egg yolk and 1 tablespoon cream in a small bowl; brush over surface of dough, and refrigerate, at least 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cups on a baking sheet, and gently prick bottom of dough inside of cups several times with the tines of a fork. Bake until crust is a deep golden color and inside of pastry shell is dry, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
6. Meanwhile, chill bowl and whisk attachment of an electric mixer. Whip remaining cup cream on medium-high speed. When cream starts to thicken, add confectioners' sugar, and beat until soft peaks form. Add rum, and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
7. Spoon 1/4 cup chilled custard into each cooled pastry shell. Add a dollop of whipped cream, and serve.
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