CARAMEL: Before you caramelize the sugar, be sure to have 6 custard cups nearby-the caramel goes in the bottom, and you'll need to work quickly. Heat the sugar in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning, until the sugar melts and turns golden brown. Don't worry if lumps develop-keep stirring and be sure the heat is not too high-and they will eventually melt. Immediately remove the skillet from the heat and place 2 teaspoons of the caramelized sugar in the bottom of each custard cup.
CUSTARD: Toast the pine nuts in an 8-inch skillet over high heat, stirring constantly, just until the pine nuts are golden brown-be careful not to let them burn! Spoon 1 tablespoon of the toasted pine nuts into each custard cup on top of the caramel.
Preheat the oven to 300°.
Process the remaining custard ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth, then add the remaining toasted pine nuts and process just until combined. Divide the mixture evenly among the custard cups. Place the filled cups in a large deep pan and fill the pan with enough hot water to come three-fourths of the way up the sides of the cups. Bake until the custards are set, about 1 to 1½ hours. To test for doneness, insert a knife into a custard; if it comes out clean, the custards are done. Serve at room temperature in the cup, or if you want to turn them out, refrigerate them until very cold, dip into hot water for a moment, then invert onto a serving dish.
Copyright© 1995 by Paul Prudhomme