Mmmm creme brûlée…it’s probably my favourite dessert but it’s easy to get wrong. Sometimes it can be too thin, sometimes too much like a dish of cold custard, sometimes curdled.
The best one that I’ve ever had was when Mr Colonial Cravings and I were working in Banff, Canada for a summer. I saved up (a lot) of pennies and treated him to dinner at the Rimrock hotel for his birthday. The whole meal was incredible (as was the view) but what really stood out for me was the Darjeeling and Camembert creme brûlée for dessert. I know it sounds all sorts of wrong but it was truly wonderful. So good that I e-mailed the chef the next day to beg for the recipe.
The Camembert is only there for texture, rather than flavour, and I’ve found that you can just about get away with substituting it with extra cream. The texture is a tiny bit less velvety the flavour is just as good.
It’s a little unusual as creme brûlée goes because it is set with gelatin rather than by baking in a bain marie, but I think this is what makes it more or less fool-proof. It is also a really easy recipe to modify as you don’t really need to worry about how things will be affected by the heat of the oven
makes 4 generous servings or 6 smaller ones if you want to accompany them with some biscuits or fruit
200ml double cream
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
4 egg yolks (about 50g)
25g white chocolate (chopped)
1.5g gelatine sheets (about 1 standard size sheet)
Whisk together the egg yolks, maple syrup, vanilla and corn flour until they are pale, thick and fluffy.
Gently heat the cream in a smallish saucepan, it needs to be hot but don’t let it get anywhere even close to boiling.
Strain this into egg yolk mixture, whilst whisking all the time to prevent it curdling and turning into sweet scrambled eggs.
Give the saucepan a quick rinse and then return the custard mixture to it and heat it very gently and steadily until it thickens. Be sure to stir it continuously so that you don’t get any hot patches that will cause school-dinner-style lumpy custard.
Once it has thickened add the chocolate and stir until it is totally melted and blended in. Prepare the gelatin, following the packets instructions, and stir this into the custard too.
Pour the mixture into little dishes or ramekins and refrigerate to set.
Just before serving sprinkle the tops with castor sugar and caramelise it with a kitchen blow torch.
These are really nice served with my rosemary shortbread.