1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1-1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup instant chicory coffee or 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
7 large egg yolks
1 recipe Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 300ºF. Arrange six 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups in a large roasting pan.
2. Combine the cream, milk, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the coffee, and pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring to a bare simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and coffee. Remove from the heat.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy and lemon colored, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the hot milk mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl or a pitcher.
4. Divide the custard among the ramekins. Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the roasting pan and bake until the custards are firm yet jiggle slightly when shaken, 30 to 40 minutes more. Remove from the water bath and let cool. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours, or overnight.
5. Sprinkle each custard with 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining sugar. Using a kitchen blowtorch, caramelize the sugar. (Alternatively, preheat the broiler. Place the custards on a baking sheet and broil until the sugar melts and caramelizes, watching closely to avoid burning and rotating the cups as necessary, 1 to 2 minutes.) Place on small dessert plates and serve with shortbread cookies.