If you go through the previous crème brûlée recipes I've shared so far, this savory version will probably raise some eyebrows. It's not that I've run out of ideas for sweet crèmes brûlées; there are plenty more to come. I've just been toying with the idea of making a savory one because I think the creamy custard and crunchy top create a perfect canvas for savory ingredients.
I chose roasted garlic, goat cheese and herbs because they are intensely flavorful and make an excellent camouflage for the egg flavor. For the top, I mixed parmesan cheese and a bit of sugar and then took my blow torch to the mixture.
Savory crèmes brûlées can be quite an original appetizer to serve at your Christmas party. They are uncommon enough to help mark just about any special occasion though.
Servings: 6 servings
1-3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
8 ounces goat cheese
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon red chili pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons puréed roasted garlic
(click on the link for the recipe)
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, ground into fine powder
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
In a mini-blender, mix the puréed roasted garlic with milk (don't use cream, otherwise it will turn into butter).
In a saucepan, combine the cream and garlic-flavored milk. Bring to a near boil. Turn off the heat and immediately add the goat cheese, thyme and rosemary. Using a spatula, keep stirring until the goat cheese is fully incorporated (see tips). Strain the dairy liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl to remove the large solids (cheese and herbs).
In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 2 teaspoons of sugar until they become pale yellow. Add the chili powder, 1 tablespoon of Parmesan and sea 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.
Strain one more time through a fine mesh and discard all the solids (if any).
Fill 6 ramekins (see tips) 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 35 minutes. Open the oven, remove the aluminum foil and 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 cools).
Allow the crèmes brûlées to cool a little.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining Parmesan and 1 teaspoon of sugar.
When serving, sprinkle the Parmesan sugar in each cup, then caramelize with a culinary torch.
Serve immediately, at room temperature.
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.
I used containers I save from St Marcellin cheese. They have a rustic look that I like for this dish. I buy this cheese at a local store called the Milk Pail Market. The address is 2585 California Street, Mountain View, CA 94040. I select ripe St Marcellin cheese and pair it with fig jam; it's a delicious snack.
Little reminder on how to obtain freshly grated Parmesan powder: Cut up a chunk of Parmesan and chop the morsels in a mini-food processor until it's a fine powder. Gather about 3 tablespoons. Set aside.
Set aside the egg whites in the refrigerator and save them for making tuiles cookies, meringues or French macarons.
You can check out more crème brulee recipes.