if i’m eating out, when it comes to choosing pudding crème brulees are always, automatically, on the shortlist. the sweet warm crunchy caramel, the chilled creamy custard and, ideally, a hidden layer of fruity treasure at the bottom of the dish.
i’ve never made my own crème brulee. baked custards have consistently thwarted me (they don’t set, they curdle or they shrink to nothingness) and my bad experiences with them have consistently put me off trying anything custard based, including crème brulee.
however, the call from jennifer, the domestic goddess, for food bloggers to give in to their cravings and cook the things they’ve never tried, changed all that. i made a lovely rose-scented apricot brulee and conquered my fear.
the hidden apricots had a slightly sharp taste and were lightly flavoured with rosewater. the custard was rich and full of vanilla flavours. the caramel was perfect and risk-free as i made it separately and simply poured it over rather than risk trouble with blowtorches or grills. this is my contribution to jennifer’s sugar high friday.
rose-scented apricot brulee (serves 6)
for the apricots:
12 ripe apricots, stones removed and chopped into chunks
1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
1 tablespoon rosewater
½ teaspoon vanilla paste
2 tablespoons water
for the custard*:
1 pint double cream
6 egg yolks
4 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla paste
for the caramel:
125g white sugar
place all the ingredients for the apricots in a pan, mix well and heat gently until the fruit begins to break down. split the mixture between 6 ramekins (4cm deep and with a base diameter of 7.5cm).
make the custard by heating the cream until it reaches boiling point. meanwhile mix together, in a large bowl, the egg yolks, cornflour, sugar and vanilla paste. add the hot cream, stirring all the time, and then return the mixture to the pan. heat very gently, still stirring, until the custard thickens – this will take around a minute (if it overheats remove it from the heat, keep beating and it will become smooth again as it cools).
divide the custard between the ramekins, covering the apricots. chill for several hours (ideally overnight).
when you are ready to eat, make the caramel – put the sugar in a pan and place this over a low heat to melt the sugar and caramelise it (do not stir – just shake the pan every now and then). when the sugar has dissolved and you have a clear syrup, pour this over the custards, covering the surface of each one. leave the caramel for a few minutes to harden then serve.
* this is a delia smith recipe and the method of making the caramel separately was suggested by her