Lavender Creme Brulee Recipe
I've been waiting for the lavender in my garden to blossom to be able to make my own Herbes de Provence mix. I had so much extra lavender that I thought I'd make our family's favorite dessert. Yes, crème brulée strikes again! Lavender has a strong floral taste, so a little bit goes a long way. To enhance the lavender aroma, I added lavender extract that I bought at Sur La Table store in Palo Alto. I really thought that the unusual flavor would turn off the kids but my little munchkin loved the lavender dessert the most and kept saying "It tastes like a flower, I love it!"
It's the third season we're planting lavender in our garden and I've learned that the variety most commonly used for cooking is English lavender, not French! So be on the look-out English lavender the next time you stop at the nursery.
If you're searching for a fancy French dessert for your next dinner party, try this recipe! On the practical side, you can make the cup dessert 'way in advance and create the sugar crust at the last minute. That way you can focus on your guests instead of dessert while still serving something fabulous. Your guests will be in awe.
Yields: 12 ramekins4 egg yolks
½ vanilla bean
2/3 cup raw honey
2 tablespoons fresh lavender, + extra for garnish
3/4 teaspoon lavender extract (optional)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
1-½ cups white baking chocolate (8 ounces)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Break up the white chocolate bar and finely chop it using a chef's knife. Set aside.
In a saucepan, combine the cream, milk and dried lavender. Bring it to a near boil. Turn off the heat immediately and add the chocolate pieces. Using a spatula, keep stirring until the chocolate is fully incorporated (see tips).
In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with ¼ cup of sugar until they become pale yellow. Add the lavender extract (if used), vanilla and salt. Combine the dairy liquid with the egg mixture by slowly adding a ladle of the dairy liquid at a time to prevent the yolks from curdling (it's called tempering).
Strain through a fine mesh and discard all the lavender bits.
Fill 12 (2-ounce) ramekins with the crème brulée custard. Place them in a warm water bath in a deep baking pan. The water should go half-way up the side of the ramekins (at least a 1-½-inch-high level of water). Loosely cover the dish with a sheet of aluminum foil and place in the oven for 30-35 minutes. The texture of the crème brulée should be a little jiggly but not liquid.
Allow the crèmes brulées to cool completely first, then plastic-wrap each individual cup and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. The fat from the cream may pick up other food odors from the refrigerator if the cups are not sealed properly.
When serving, unwrap the cups and sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of sugar in each cup, then caramelize with a culinary torch.
Garnish with sprigs of lavender. Serve immediately.
I used Valrhona white baking chocolate that I bought directly from the local market but you can use any other white chocolate bar or chips.
A pinch of salt brings out the flavor of the dessert and enhances its sweetness.
If you don't have fresh lavender, you can substitute 1 tablespoon dried lavender or 1 tablespoon of lavender extract.
While letting the chocolate steep in the dairy mixture, it's preferable to stir the mixture until the liquid is smooth, rather than whisking so you create as little milk froth as possible. You don't want a latte foam to form.
If you don't own a blow torch, you can place the crèmes brulées under the broiler until the sugar caramelizes. But if you decide to make this dessert quite often as we do, a culinary torch is a good investment.
Set aside the egg whites in the refrigerator and save them for making tuiles cookies, meringues or French macarons.April 9, 2010.