Lavender Creme Brulee

27 May

Thoughts for possible Eat Cake for Breakfast mini-series:

1. Arrested Development episodes (there’s-always-money-in-the-banana-stand, the cornballer, Ike and Tina tuna, etc.)

2. Things my husband casually suggests I make that…ahem…definitely aren’t his favorite (just mere suggestions)

3. Things I eat in Charlottesville that have no relevance to recipes. Just a list of everything I eat while in town (a lengthy mini-series)

All would be equally rich and compelling, but this time I choose #3 (and I’ll even give you a recipe!)

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Charlottesville is a magical place, and there are so many places I could tell you to go, but in light of the upcoming mini-series (only half kidding), go to Michael’s Bistro. Start with a snake bite and order the Thai chicken curry for dinner.

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Naturally, this was my order last time I was in town. While I usually politely turn down dessert in favor of cookies on the privacy of my couch, the lavender creme brulee beckoned…and beckoned hard.

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While my good friend Joanna and I mulled over the lavender-infused custard and caramelized shell, we joked about the blog-worthiness of the dessert. It went something like this:

Joanna: “You should make this for your blog!”

Me: “Ha, totally!”

Joanna: “No really, you should make this for your blog…”

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So I did! I’m also the new, proud owner of a butane torch. For all future creme bruleeing, merengue browning and tomato fire-roasting, I’m your girl.

This one’s for you, Joanna!

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The most gratifying part is definitely watching the sugar caramelize:

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Well, second most gratifying. Breaking that caramelized crust is worth every butane-filled moment. Swoon.

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Lavender Creme Brulee (adapted from Oprah)

Yields about 4 ramekins

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

3 tbsp dried lavender

6 egg yolks

1/4 cup granulated sugar plus extra for caramelizing

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and start heating tea kettle on medium-high heat.

In a small saucepan, combine whole milk and heavy cream over high heat and simmer until you barely see bubbles forming to boil, then remove. Add lavender and let sit for 1 hour to soak up the lavender flavor.

After an hour, combine egg yolks and granulated sugar. Whisk together and continue to whisk until the yolks take on a pale yellow color. Strain cream mixture into a clean saucepan to remove lavender buds (squeeze them to really get out all the cream) and heat the mixture again until barely boiling. Slowly pour the cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Once combined, skim off any foam (if desired) and divide mixture between ramekins.

Place ramekins in an oven-safe dish and fill with heated water from tea kettle until water level reaches half the height of the cream mixture in your ramekins. The water shouldn’t be boiling, but should be hot. Place the dish into an oven preheated to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until ramekins are just set. When the creme brulee is fully cooked, you should be able to gently shake the ramekin and see that the edges do not move, but the middle just barely wiggles.  Careful not to overcook!

Once set, remove ramekins from water and let them sit at room temperature for a few minutes before refrigerating to really let the custard set, at least two hours and up to 2 days. Before serving/enjoying, coat top layer with granulated sugar and fire up your torch. Holding the flame parallel and rotating the torch, slowly melt the sugar. If you don’t have a kitchen torch, turn your oven broiler on high and place ramekins underneath, watching closely until sugar melts. Let the brulee stand for a few minutes (torching/broiling are HOT) and enjoy!

Time

30 minutes active, additional 3.5 hours inactive

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