I adore crème brûlée and unlike some purists, I don’t mind seeing different flavour combinations out there. I find the inclusion of chocolate, maple or seasonal fruit can add a nice variety to this classic dish. This particular version was inspired by two of my favourite places to visit (and eat) – India and France. Attending a recent preview screening of the truly wonderful new film, The Hundred Foot Journey, got me thinking about Indian-French fusion in cooking and I just had to come up with something to indulge my continuing love affair with cardamom. The effect of the seasonings is very subtle and I’m pretty happy with this variation on a favourite; I expect I’ll be making it often!
- 1 1/3 cups (300mL) heavy (35%) cream
- 12 cardamom pods, crushed, seeds extracted and ground
- zest of one large or 1.5 small clementines
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) white sugar
- 4 tablespoons (60 mL) white sugar for brûlée topping
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- With a mortar and pestle, crack open the cardamom pods. Extract the seeds, discarding the shells. Grind the seeds lightly.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream, cardamom and clementine zest until it is steaming. Remove from heat and let rest, stirring occasionally, for 5 – 10 minutes to infuse cream with the seasonings.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 3 tablespoons (45 mL) white sugar. Set a strainer over the bowl and pour the lukewarm cream mixture into the egg mixture.
- Stir well to combine. Don’t stir too vigorously as you don’t want to create too many air bubbles.
- Strain the egg and cream mixture into a pitcher or measuring cup (for easy pouring) then divide among four small ramekins.
- Put the filled ramekins in a large heatproof baking dish and carefully pour hot water into the baking dish to come two thirds of the way up the sides of the ramekins.
- Carefully transfer the filled baking dish into the preheated oven.
- Bake until the custard is just firming up but still slightly wobbly in the centre (you can test this by gently jiggling the baking pan) – about 25 minutes.
- Cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes then refrigerate.
- 15 minutes before serving time, remove the ramekins from the refrigerator.
- Just before serving, sprinkle the top of each ramekin with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) white sugar.
- Use a kitchen torch to scorch the sugar on top. Let rest for 5 minutes then serve.