Creme Brûlée; the famous French custard dessert with a burnt sugar top. It’s made with heavy cream, egg yolks and sugar. The classic flavor is vanilla. My version uses fresh orange zest and ginger for surprising flavor and a tasty twist.
Dessert Done Smart
Even if you focus on a healthy diet, you don’t have to give up desserts like creme brulee. Keep it for special occasions and keep the portions small. Another tip, use big flavors so that just a few bites will satisfy.
Orange Ginger Creme Brûlée
My latest version of creme brulee utilizes zingy ginger and fresh orange zest for a delicious twist. Ginger and citrus are wonderful partners in flavor. Make them in mini, 2-ounce ramekins. Look for the ramekins at cooking stores, online and at stores like Target and Walmart.
How to Make Creme Brulee
Making the custard is simple. Combine heavy cream and sugar in a small pan. Heat and whisk to melt the sugar. Infuse the cream with lots of fresh orange zest and ginger for 30 minutes. Strain out the zest and ginger. Whisk warm, flavored cream with egg yolks.
Line a large flat baking dish with a folded kitchen towel. The towel keeps the ramekins stable. Place ramekins on top of the towel in a flat layer and do not crowd them. Pour liquid custard into 2 ounce ramekins (available at cooking stores and online). Pour boiling hot water half way up the ramekins. This is called a water bath. It enures gentle, even baking for a smooth, luscious custard.
Bake custard in a 300 degree (149 C) for approximately 35 minutes, or until the centers are just set and just a little bit wiggly. The best way to test is with a digital thermometer. It should register 170 degrees (76 C) . Don’t worry about the little hole that the thermometer might leave. Your sugar will cover it. Cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
How to Finish: Sugar and Torch
The Sugar: To create the “brulee” or burnt top, you need a coarse, golden brown sugar. Look for either demerara or turbinado style sugar. Wholesome Sweeteners and Florida Crystals make high quality, organic, unrefined, natural sugars that work great for creme brulee.
The Tool: To burn the sugar top, the best tool is a blow torch because it melts the sugar quickly without warming the chilled custard. What I’ve found works best is a torch that locks onto a butane can. Here is what I use.
How to Finish and Serve: Remove ramekins from the refrigerator. Blot any condensation on top of the custards with the edge of a paper towel. Put about a 2 teaspoons of sugar on each custard and tap it to cover completely. Pout off the excess sugar for a thin coating.
Light your torch and slowly move it over the sugar. If the sugar starts to burn to quickly pull back a bit. Start with a lower setting, not as intense of a flame, and don’t get too close. When you have completed burning all of the sugar tops, serve and enjoy!
Even if you focus on a healthy diet, enjoying creme brulee is still possible. Reserve it for special occasions and try this mini size. A 2 ounce portion is just enough to satisfy after dinner. I’ve infused the custard with the bold flavors of fresh orange and ginger. You can make these up to 3 days ahead and keep refrigerated until serving. Burn the tops with sugar before serving. Special tools: You will need 8 2-ounce ramekins and a blow torch for this recipe.
- 2 cups (473 ml) heavy cream
- 1/3 cup organic sugar (or Sucanat)
- a pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh grated orange zest
- 1 tablespoon organic ginger puree (or fresh finely grated ginger)
- 6 large egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons demerara or turbinado sugar (natural, organic, unrefined)
- Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees with the rack in the center.
- Put a full kettle on to boil water for a water bath.
- In a medium pan, combine the cream, sugar and salt. Bring to almost a boil and turn down to low immediately, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Add the grated orange zest and ginger. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the flavors to infuse for 30 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks until smooth. Strain the cream through a fine sieve into the bowl with the yolks and stir to combine. Discard any leftover solids left in the sieve. To fill easily fill ramekins, pour liquid custard into a 4-cup measuring cup with a pouring spout.
- Line a large, shallow baking dish with a folded kitchen towel. Place ramekins flat on the towel. Don’t crowd them. Fill the ramekins with the cream mixture. Move the dish to the oven rack. Carefully pour enough hot water around the ramekins to come up half way on their sides. Slowly and carefully slide the rack into the oven.
- Bake custards for approximately 35 minutes or until a digital thermometer registers 170 degrees in the center. The center of the custards will just be a little wiggly but set.
- Remove the custards to a wire rack and cool completely. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate overnight or for about 4 hours to totally chill.
- To finish and serve, remove custards form the refrigerator and uncover. Blot any excess moisture that has pooled on top. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and tap to get an even, thin coating. Burn tops with a torch to caramelize the sugar into a golden crust. Serve.