I invited some friends over for a Moroccan tagine dinner tonight and was warned that one of them couldn’t eat gluten. There were a few desserts I wanted to make that stayed with the Moroccan theme, but was challenged to find one that I liked without that pesky gluten. In the end I settled on something completely different – a creme brulee variation. I’ve been eyeing up some ramekins (smallish oven-proof cups) to add to my kitchen collection and thought that a brulee would be a good excuse for the purchase and a nice way to break them in. It would also allow me to use the closest thing to a power tool in the kitchen: a brulee torch. Yes, I have home insurance.
3 ramekins (again, those 3 inch in diameter oven-proof cups)
1 large mango
Approximately 15 blackberries
2 tbsp of dark rum
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
4 egg yolks
3 heaping tbsp of granulated sugar
6 tsp granulated sugar – for caramelizing the tops of the brulee afterwards (2 tbsp each)
Half a pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2. Place the berries in each of 3 ramekins (I put 4 in each and saved 1 each as a garnish later). Peel and slice the mango into small half inch pieces (cubes or strips) and place these with the berries in the ramekin. Sprinkle each with the cinnamon.
3. In a medium saucepan, bring cream to simmer.
4. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar and a pinch of salt until blended. Very slowly whisk in one tablespoon at a time of the hot cream while stirring vigorously. This is called ‘tempering’ the egg yolks, so as not to scramble or curdle them when exposing them to the heat. When all the cream has been added and mixed, stir in vanilla extract and the rum.
5. Divide and pour the mixture among the ramekins, then set them in a baking pan or water bath and pour boiling water so that it reaches about halfway up ramekins. This will help ensure consistent heating of the brulee.
6. Place baking pan in oven for 35-40 minutes or until set. You’ll know it’s set when you tilt the ramekin slightly on its side and its doesn’t run. A well baked brulee will still be slightly jiggly in the middle – that’s ok. You can easily test their readiness while they’re still in the oven, by taking one out with a pair of BBQ tongs and giving them a gentle shake. If they’re not done, put them back in for 2 additional minutes at a time. Don’t overcook.
7. Remove ramekins from pan so they don’t continue cooking in the hot water; cool, then chill thoroughly by covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating for at least 4 hours.
8. Before serving, sprinkle 2 tsp sugar over each custard. Tilt the brulee on its side and turn, while tapping the edges, to make sure any loose sugar evenly coats the entire surface.
9. To caramelize the sugar top, you can either place the ramekin directly under the heated grill for a few minutes or you can use a butane brulee torch (this is what I used). If using the latter, place each ramekin on top of a piece of aluminum foil (to make sure you don’t accidentally burn the countertop) and slowly move the flame in a circular motion over the surface until it is scorched in its entirety (though not burnt). This should take about a minute for each custard and will elicit oohs and ahs from your guests.
10. Garnish with a berry and serve either warm or chilled for a few minutes.