“It’s one of my favourite desserts,” Patrick says, “and it’s one of our most popular desserts.”
Crème brûlée is usually served in individual ramekins, but it also presents beautifully in a single nine-inch round ovenproof dish. Some people are intimidated by the final step. You will need a blowtorch for this. Patrick uses a large propane-fuelled device, but smaller butane torches are available at most hardware or kitchen stores.
“This is always an impressive dessert to serve at a dinner party,” says Patrick. He recommends doing the final caramelizing right at the table. “It always makes for great conversation when you pull out the blowtorch.”
4 to 6
- 1 vanilla pod or 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 3 tbsp dried or fresh lavender flowers
- ¼ cup granulated sugar for custard
- 6 tbsp granulated sugar for topping
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 pint raspberries (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. If using a vanilla bean, split pod lengthwise and scrape seeds into the cream. Put cream, lavender and vanilla into a saucepan. Bring cream to the boiling point, lower heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
- Strain cream into a clean saucepan. Heat over medium until the cream just begins to bubble around the edges. Do not let boil.
- While cream is heating, beat sugar and egg yolks together in a large heat-proof bowl until fluffy.
- Temper the egg mixture by very slowly whisking in a small amount of warm cream. Take your time so the yolks don’t scramble. Once the egg mixture is tempered, slowly whisk in the remaining cream.
- Place ramekins in a large roasting tray. Place a few raspberries in the bottom of six ½-cup ramekins (or four larger ones). Pour cream over the raspberries until ramekins are about two-thirds full.
- Add hot water to the roasting tray until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Place the tray in the centre of the oven and bake for 45 minutes until custards are just set and a bit wobbly in the middle.
- Allow to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Cover the surface of each with a generous tablespoon of sugar.
- Caramelize with a blowtorch until dark golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes or longer.