Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Classic Creme Brulee + Edible Flowers

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No dessert in the history of swanky desserts has quite the same effect on my mood as creme brulee. While ice cream historically is the poster child of the best summer evenings, creme brulee (to me) stands for rocking that single-girl life. I've shared it with a sister on an outdoor patio at dark, surrounded by dining couples, jazz, and a dog named Remi. I've eaten it in Charleston, SC at a place called the Thoroughbred Club (again, with jazz) while friends ordered cocktails. I've made it for a dinner party and introduced three of my friends to the magic in one fell swoop. Creme brulee and single girls just seem to go together like champagne and caviar - all my memories surrounding this dessert are footloose, relaxed, warm. Also, I'm a sucker for the way the sugar glass cracks when you dig into it with your spoon. Like, all the satisfaction of shattering something with zero of the cleanup. I've definitely contemplated brulee'ing a sheet-pan of sugar and cracking it with a hammer just for fun. Maybe a creme brulee cake is in my near future?

Those of you who've been following along on Instagram may remember that I got my gardening spirit on and planted a few herbs and edible flowers in a raised bed on our property. It's still doing fairly well, all things considered. Some evil bug attacked my green basil but the purple basil is still going strong. And there hasn't been a mass return of the giant red ants so here's hoping that they're in the past and my herbs will soon take over and retain ground in that raised bed and flavor many many meals to come. To keep my edible flowers (two varieties of dianthus, plus marigolds) in bloom I've been pinching off the blossoms and saving them for additions to salads, yogurt, smoothie bowls, and yes, creme brulee. I especially love the delicate clove-like flavor of the dianthus!

Creme brulee is one of those things that I believe tastes better when it is made from scratch at home. As intimidating as it may sound to some ("We're making a CUSTARD. From SCRATCH? IN A WATER BATH?"), the method is quite easy and I've yet to meet a creme brulee in public that is quite as silky and perfect at those I've achieved at home. Essentially, you're whipping together some egg yolks and sugar, heating heavy cream to the nearly-but-not-quite boiling point, gently combining the one with the other (off-heat), and pouring the custard into individual ramekins to finish off cooking in a nice Jacuzzi in the oven. After the custards are baked you're chilling them (so make these in the morning if you'd like creme brulee after dinner), sprinkling a little sugar over their tops, and hitting the sugar with an open flame from a butane torch to gain that signature "glass" effect. Easy-peasy. Especially if you have a mini kitchen torch. If not, your dad/boyfriend/husband/mechanic might have a large butane torch you can coerce them into letting you borrow for this step of the recipe. That's what I used for the creme brulee pictured here! To garnish, I like grabbing fresh raspberries and a scattering of herbs or edible flowers. Maybe creme brulee had its heyday in the 1980's as some villain suggested, but I'm still a fan. Dare you to join me.

























Classic Creme Brulee
(serves six)


1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup, plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup sugar for torching
small kitchen torch


1.) In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat together egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy, about five minutes.
2.) In a medium sized, non-reactive saucepan heat cream over medium heat until very hot but not yet boiling. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
3.) In a thin stream, stirring constantly, pour about half of the cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Then gently add the rest, continuing to stir. When well combined, ladle the custard into six ramekins or other small baking dishes.
4.) Set ramekins into a 9x13 baking dish and add about half an inch of water into the bottom of the pan around the bases of your ramekins.
5.) Bake in a 300 degree F. oven for 35-40 minutes or until the mixture is set in the center (it'll still be a little jiggly in the center). Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature, then chill for at least two hours.
6.) When thoroughly chilled, sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar over each custard dish. Brulee the sugar with the torch until golden and return them to the fridge for ten minutes before garnishing and serving.

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