by Lauren Mote
So, it’s now 2 days before Christmas, and as a main feature in the dessert course for two dinners that Johnny and I are attending, I decided a wildly classic series of desserts would be appropriate, including a ginger crème brulée.
This recipe is adapted from Johnny’s original crème caramel recipe (just an upside-down crème brulée with the caramelized sugar on the bottom of the ramekin).
I have to yield 16 servings at 4 oz. a serving, so Johnny reduced his recipe for me. This recipe takes time, patience and skill, so make sure you can devote 3 hours in total to prepare this custard, it will be well worth it in the end.
Makes 16 x 4 oz. ramekins
2L 33%-35% cream
16 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, scraped and pod reserved
300g granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F, middle rack.
Steep cream in heavy saucepan, making sure that it does not boil, a slow simmer, with vanilla – particles and whole pod – and other aromatics, in this case 60g of fresh ginger. No need to peel the ginger, just slice it, bang it with the back of your knife to release the juices, and add to cream. Steep this for at least 30 minutes, while stirring every 2 minutes, then set aside to bring to a “touchable temperature” – make sure that it’s hot, but not too hot to stick your finger into.
Separate your eggs, reserve egg whites for another project! Add sugar to the egg yolks and whisk until smooth – try not to add extra air into the yolks. Temper your eggs by adding a small amount, about a cup of the cream, while whisking to bring the yolks to temperature, without cooking or curdling them. Gradually add another cup, and then another – then add the yolk mixture directly to the cooled saucepan whisking the entire mixture together.
Prepare 16 ramekins inside a deep roasting pan with high edges. Pass the custard mixture through a fine chinois or fine mesh strainer to catch the bits of vanilla, ginger, etc. Pour custard slowly into prepared ramekins, leaving at least 1/2 inch of room at the top.
Place roasting pans on the baking rack, and add hot water the pan to at least half way up the sides of the ramekins – this is called a “baine marie”. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 60 minutes, checking frequently within the final 10 minutes.
To check if custard is done: tap the side of the ramekin – there should be a slight “jiggle” in the centre of the ramekin, and the sides should be tighter. Do not touch it. If the custard has a little bit of golden colour, don’t worry about it… it’s just from the heat of the oven – I have this problem with my oven, it’s extremely hot and dry.
Next, remove carefully from oven – remember there’s still scalding water in the pan! Leave the ramekins sitting in the water for anther 10 minutes, then remove and let stand at room temperature. Once completely cool, leave uncovered and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours but not exceeding 2 days.
When ready to serve, sprinkle a generous amount of white sugar around the top of the custard. With a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar to create the “brulée” or burnt top. If you do not have a torch, place ramekins in freezer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, place the ramekins on the top rack in the oven, with the sugar on top, under the broiler for 5 minutes.