A decadent and delicious classic, infused with the fragrant flavour of fresh passionfruit.
There's something quite special about cracking open the crust of a crème brûlée with a teaspoon, and spooning out the rich and creamy custard from beneath. It's one of those really rich and special desserts that tends to accompany 'special occasions', or indulgent meals out.
And yet, it's actually deceptively easy to make - and lots of fun caramelising the sugar at the end, too!
This recipe makes six crème brûlées (in 150ml ramekins) and the cooked custards will keep happily covered in the fridge for a few days (mine were still fine after one week), so you can make them in advance, and caramelise the tops just before serving.
- 400g double (heavy) cream
- 6 large passion fruit (pulp weighing around 100-110g)
- 50g full fat milk
- 1 vanilla pod (or 1tsp vanilla paste/extract)
- 125g egg yolks (from around 8 medium eggs, or 6 large)
- 100g golden caster sugar (raw/unrefined sugar)
- 9tsp golden caster sugar to caramelise the tops
- Blow torch for caramelising the sugar on top of the crème brûlées
- Six ramekins which will easily hold 150ml each
- Large deep baking tray to sit the ramekins in
(See below for Thermomix method in italics)
1. Weigh the 400g cream and 50g milk into a saucepan, and scoop the pulp from the halved passionfruit with a small spoon, and add to the cream. Split the vanilla pod (if using) in two and scrape the seeds into the cream, and then add the empty pod to it.
2. Turn a gentle heat on under the pan, bring to a very gentle simmer, and keep simmering for 7-8 minutes, stirring gently occasionally.
3. Set the cream aside to infuse and cool for ten minutes and pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 2 / 150C / 130C Fan Oven. Pass the cream through a sieve to remove the passionfruit seeds and vanilla pod, and discard them.
4. Meanwhile add the egg yolks and sugar to a large heatproof bowl, and whisk until increased in volume, pale and foamy - this will be easiest done with an electric whisk or hand mixer.
5. Gradually add the infused and sieved cream mixture to the egg and sugar, whisking continuously, until completely incorporated. To ensure a perfectly smooth result, without any bits of egg in it, you could sieve once again.
6. If for any reason your mixture has curdled or gone grainy (which it shouldn't have, if you've followed these instructions), add 30g cold milk or cream and whisk in (you could also put into a blender or food processor or use a blending stick). Now continue from point 7 below the Thermomix method.
1. Add the sugar to the bowl, place a piece of kitchen towel on top of the lid, and the MC on top of the kitchen towel, pushing down into the hole. Mill the sugar for 30 seconds / Speed 10. Leave to settle for a minute or two, then tip out and reserve.
2. Weigh the 400g cream and 50g milk into the bowl, and scoop the pulp from the halved passionfruit with a small spoon, and add to the cream. Split the vanilla pod (if using) in two and scrape the seeds into the cream, and then add the empty pod to it. Cook for 10 minutes / 80C / Reverse / Speed 2 / MC off.
3. Set the cream aside to infuse and cool for ten minutes (leaving the bowl out of the base to also cool down), pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 2 / 150C / 130C Fan Oven, and then pass through a sieve to remove the passionfruit seeds and vanilla pod.
4. Add the egg yolks and sugar to the bowl, insert the butterfly whisk, slowly turn up to Speed 4, and whisk for 5 minutes.
5. Turn the speed down to Speed 1.5, and slowly pour in the infused cream until it is fully incorporated.
6. Remove the butterfly whisk, then blend the mixture for 30 seconds / Speed 8 / MC on. Check your mixture is nice and smooth. If for any reason it has curdled or gone grainy (which it shouldn't have, if you've followed these instructions), add 30g cold milk or cream and blend again for another 30 seconds / Speed 8 / MC on. Continue from point 7 below.
7. At this point, if you want to be a bit anally retentive, you can gently skim off any foam from the top of the mix to get a smoother surface on your crème brûlées when they cook, but it's not essential. Boil a kettleful of water, and set 6 ramekins into a nice deep tray ready to go into the oven.
8. Carefully pour the mixture into the ramekins, and then pour enough boiled water into the tray to come halfway up to where the mixture is in the ramekins (not halfway up the ramekins themselves). Ideally, if you have a baking sheet which will sit on top of the tray and clear the top of the ramekins without touching them, put this over the tray, but leave an inch or two gap on one side, so it's not sealed. If not, partially cover with loose tented foil.
9. Transfer carefully to the middle of the oven, and cook for approximately 30 minutes (depending on your oven, they may need 5 or 10 minutes extra, or a tiny bit less) until they have a slight wobble left in the middle, then immediately remove from the oven and carefully take out of the hot water and set aside to cool.
10. Once cooled, put into the fridge to chill and firm. They will need at least two hours, and will be happy in there for several days if you wish to prepare in advance. If you're going to keep them for more than a couple of hours, then cover with clingfilm / gladwrap once they're completely cold.
11. When you are ready, remove the crème brûlées from the fridge. If there is mixture on the sides of the ramekins, I like to remove it and neaten them up (although this isn't essential!) - I find this easiest to do with a little clingfilm wrapped around a finger, then moistened and firmly wiped around the top which seems the most effective way without disturbing the top too much.
12. To get a really nice, evenly glazed finish on your sugar, the secret is a little water with the sugar. Some people like to 'spritz' it on with a water mister, after sprinkling the sugar over the custard. I prefer to put it on before putting the sugar on, as it makes it easier to tip the sugar around in a nice even layer. If you have something to mist with, us that - I just dip two clean fingers into cold water then gently dab them over the surface - you need to do this three or four times to moisten it all.
13. Once ready, scatter 1.5 teaspoons of golden caster (fine raw) sugar over each crème brûlée, and gently shake and swirl the pot so that the sugar covers the surface as evenly as possible. If you want a really neat finish, you can then wipe off any sugar from the sides of the ramekin, before caramelising the sugar. (As you can see, I forgot to do this in the one in the finished photo!). It's no biggie...
14. Finally...! Place your ramekins on something that won't burn or catch fire (like a metal tray over the hob), light your blowtorch*, and brûlée that sugar! If you keep your torch moving in circles, you'll get a nice even finish - be careful that your sugar doesn't actually catch fire / start smoking and become black - try to be moderate with your 'burning'!
Don't worry if it appears bubbly just after you've done it - the bubbles will settle down to a nice smooth finish as it cools. Be careful when you pick them up - the tops of the ramekins will be hot! Enjoy on its own, or with a little tropical fruit on the side!
*I've experimented with trying to use a hot grill (broiler) instead of a blowtorch in the past. I find that the grill just doesn't get hot enough and in order to get any kind of caramelisation of the sugar, you end up cooking everything else underneath. If you have an extremely hot gas grill, you might get away with it, but I've never been successful. They just don't make 'em like they used to!
|Mmmm.... that is all!|