Pistachio Dessert: Pistachio Creme Brulee Recipe (+Giveaway)
If you've been following my culinary adventures, you've probably noticed how much I love pistachios! Daddy (my father-in-law) went to visit one of his friends in Sacramento who grows orchards of pistachios. Daddy brought bags filled with fresh pistachios back for me to have fun with. I had never seen or tasted the raw product and it was amazing. The color is richer and greener. Daddy said raw pistachios are very common in India and picking the pistachios brought him back in time. There were so many pistachios that I had to come up with creative ways to make use of them. I immediately thought of making pistachio paste by grinding and blending them raw with a little Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Sugar. I also added pistachio oil to make the paste smooth and creamy because pistachios contain very little natural oil compared to other nuts. I also added a touch of almond extract to give the pistachio paste a nice aroma.
I didn't stop there. I used the paste to flavor a typical French dessert: crème brûlée. I've made crèmes brûlées so many times (lavender, banana, cherry, masala chai, matcha green tea, lemon, chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch, even a savory garlic flavored-one!) that after checking back on PhamFatale.com, I was surprised to see that I never posted this particular version! The pistachios were so fresh that it was almost guaranteed that the crèmes brûlées would be divine. To accentuate the dessert, I used vanilla sugar from Bourbon Barrel in the pistachio paste, the custard mixture and the brûlé part itself. It’s just more evidence that a few exquisite ingredients can transform the simplest foods (eggs, milk, cream and sugar) into something extraordinary.
In addition to tasting incredible, this naturally green-colored dessert can be part of your Halloween table. The kids can have their Snickers and Twix; I’d rather have one (or three) of these pistachio crèmes brûlées!
Yields: 9 mini-ramekins40 fresh raw pistachios, soaked overnight
2 tablespoons pistachio oil (or any other oils or soft butter)
4 egg yolks
¼ cup Bourbon vanilla sugar (see tips)
½ teaspoon pure almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces Belgian white chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted roasted pistachio kernels, finely crushed
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
How to make pistachio paste (pâte de pistache):
Wash the pistachios. Drain all the liquid. Shell them and gather about 4 ounces of pistachio kernels. Try to leave as little skin as possible
Using a mortar and pestle (or a small food processor), grind the pistachios until a coarse mixture is formed. Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla sugar and the salt and turn the coarse mill into a paste. Add 2 tablespoons of pistachio oil (or canola oil) and almond extract. Stir well.
Isn't the natural green color pretty?
Making the crème brûlée custard:
In a saucepan, combine the cream and milk. Bring to a near boil (don't over-cook; otherwise the fat might start separating and create an oily layer on top of the dessert). Turn off the heat; immediately add the white chocolate and let steep for 2-3 minutes. Using a spatula, stir until the chocolate is fully incorporated (see tips).
In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 1-½ tablespoons of vanilla sugar for 4-5 minutes (no need to add an excessive amount of sugar since the white chocolate is already sweetened). Add the pistachio paste.
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.
Strain the dairy liquid through a fine mesh and discard all the solids (white chocolate and pistachio remnants).
Fill 9 (2-ounce) ramekins with the crème brûlée 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 minutes. Open the oven and remove the aluminum foil; continue cooking for another 5 minutes. The texture of the crèmes brûlées should be a little jiggly but not liquid (the custard will get firmer and creamier as it chills in the refrigerator).
Allow the crèmes brûlées 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 with a layer of vanilla sugar in each cup, then caramelize with a culinary torch.
Garnish with crushed pistachios.
I used Bourbon Barrel vanilla sugar. This sugar tastes so good and it's so fragrant. If you want to buy the same sugar, go to BourbonBarrelFoods.com. Plus, if you enter coupon code FATALE (exclusively for Pham Fatale readers), you get 10% off your entire order (coupon expires on November 6th, 2011).
A pinch of salt brings out the flavor of the dessert and enhances its sweetness.
If you make extra pistachio paste, you can store it in an ice-cube tray in your freezer for up to 1 month or for 1 week in your refrigerator. You can use it for flavoring custards, mousses, ice creams and French macarons.
While letting the white chocolate chips 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 on the top.
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.October 25, 2011.