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Cafe Brulot Custard

At old-style Creole restaurants, the lights are dimmed as a waiter rolls out a tableside cart topped with a chafing dish of strong coffee. The waiter spices it with cloves, cinnamon sticks, and lemon peel; adds warm brandy; and then sets it alight, stirring the flaming brew with much ceremony and flourish before ladling it into cups. Cafe brulot is usually a grand finale for a rich and very expensive meal. It inspired this simple dessert that re-creates the same flavors in a homey custard. Using half-and-half yields an especially luxurious dessert, but it is also fine to substitute whole milk. Serve with small cups of espresso garnished with a twist of shaved lemon rind.
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