Monday, February 13, 2012

Honey Lavender Crème Brûlée

Lavender is a polarizing ingredient.  It seems people either love it or hate it.  I love it.  The delicate floral notes with a bit of sweetness - divine.  I first tasted it in a cupcake (still my favorite) and have enjoyed it in ice cream and caramels as well.  I've wanted to cook or bake something with it for quite awhile but I've been wary of the potential catastrophe of tasting "too soapy."  (The same way I fear minty things will taste "too toothpaste-y")

I found some edible dried lavender at a local spice shop and have been keeping it in our spice cabinet until I had a game plan.  I finally got up the nerve to give it a try with a favorite style of dessert - crème brûlée.  I wish I could say I came up with this recipe from scratch, but alas, I did not.  I found an established one (and trusted they would avoid the soapiness), and wow.

The first bite was epic.  Wonderful.  Amazing.  The boyfriend inhaled his (and he's not a huge lavender fan.)  I tried to take my time with mine while he licked his ramekin clean.  No shame when there are remaining particles of tastiness to be had!

We will be making this frequently.  And by frequently I mean "as-much-as-possible."  It. Is. Awesome!

Honey Lavender Crème Brûlée

Makes 8 four-ounce servings
(recipe from the girl & the fig cookbook, by Sandra Bernstein)

2 1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tablespoons dried lavender
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, plus about 8 teaspoons sugar for sprinkling
2 tablespoons honey

Place the cream and milk in a saucepan and add the lavender. Bring to a simmer and turn off the heat. Let the lavender steep for about 10-15 minutes or until the milk has a lavender flavor. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks, the 1/2 cup sugar, and the honey in a separate bowl until smooth.  Strain the lavender-cream mixture through a fine-mesh sieve.  Whisk into the egg, sugar and honey mixture and skim off any foam.

Preheat oven to 350F. Pour the mixture into 8 four-ounce ramekins. Set the ramekins in a baking pan and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 40 minutes or until set. (Test for done-ness by jiggling the ramekins.) Remove the baking pan from the oven and allow the ramekins to cool in the water bath for 5 minutes. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Before serving, sprinkle the tops with a thin layer of sugar and caramelize with a small torch.


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