Break away from the idea that a custard has to be sweet. Nothing comes close to caramelised shallot – hidden at the bottom of each ramekin – the sweetness and the umami, finished off with a touch of zesty orange. This dish is ideal to make ahead and perfect for vegetarian guests.

Serves: 4
Difficulty: Easy
Prep time: 40 min
Cooking time: 1 hr 30 min

4 shallots, peeled
15 ml unsalted butter
Sea salt and white pepper
5 ml granulated sugar
Freshly grated nutmeg
Zest of 1 orange
2 large eggs
375 ml double cream

Preheat the oven to 275 °C.
Using a sharp paring knife, very thinly slice the shallots lengthways, but leave the slices attached at the root end. Use your palm to gently fan out the slices.
In a medium sized pan, melt the butter and add the shallots. Season with salt and white pepper.
Sprinkle the sugar and a pinch of nutmeg on top and cook for about 10 minutes until nicely browned. Add the orange zest and cook for another 5 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
Fan out the shallots in the centre of four ramekins. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the cream, 2.5 ml salt and white pepper to taste. Add a pinch of nutmeg and pour the mixture into the ramekins. Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and set in a glass or ceramic dish filled with hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Place the baking dish in the centre of the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.
Remove the baking dish from the oven and let the ramekins stand in the water for 5 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and leave to cool.
Serve warm or at room temperature with Shallot Confit and garnished with Caramelised Sunflower Seeds.