09 Jan Ginger & Honey Crème Brûlée
Something magical happens to the ginger when it is infused into the cream and baked with the honey in the custard. The flavor is sweet, without being cloying, and the ginger on the afterpalate is divine. Ultra rich and creamy thick, this is the very definition of elegance and indulgence.
Makes eight (8) 4- to 6-ounce servings
1/2 cup fresh peeled ginger, coarsely chopped
4 cups of heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoon wildflower honey
12 egg yolks
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Place the ramekins for the crème brûlée in a deep baking pan, making sure the ramekins do not touch each other.
Using a garlic press, press the chopped ginger into a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Collect the ginger juice and the fibrous pieces into the saucepan, along with the pressed ginger. Add the heavy cream. Place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand to infuse for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Place the egg yolks into a medium bowl, add the honey and whisk to combine. Add the sugar and whisk vigorously for about 3 or 4 minutes until the sugar is melted and incorporated. The mixture should be thick and pale yellow, with ribbons of the mixture falling from the whisk when lifted. Gradually whisk in the cream mixture, tempering the egg, honey and sugar mixture if the cream and ginger are still hot. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl, pressing on the ginger to release all the liquid. Discard the ginger solids. Rap the bowl with the cream and egg mixture on the counter to release any air that was incorporated into the mixture during whisking.
Using a ladle, pour the mixture into the ramekins filling each about 1/4” from the top. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface.
Pour hot water into the baking pan so that it reaches about half-way up the side of the ramekins. Bake until the custards are firm, but the centers are still a bit loose, about 50 to 55 minutes.
Remove from the baking pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Sprinkle a light layer of brown sugar over the surface of each crème brûlée. Using a culinary torch, caramelize the sugar. As an alternative, place the ramekins on a baking sheet and place under a broiler. Watch carefully to avoid burning the sugar. The tops should caramelize in 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Serve immediately, or return to the refrigerator until ready to serve.
[Chef’s Note: Caramelizing the sugar under a broiler is a snap, but it is critical that your oven be cool, and only the broiler element working. Placing crème brûlée into a hot oven to caramelize the top will likely result in your crème brûlée becoming liquid custard. If you need to, caramelize the tops before preparing your dinner in the oven, and hold them in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Making crème brûlée ahead of time is great, when you plan enough in advance. If you find yourself trying to prepare these the afternoon of your party, try this quick cool down trick: Once you remove the crème brûlées from the oven, place them on a wire rack in a cool area of the house for about one-half hour. Loosely cover the ramekins with cling film and place in a roasting pan filled with ice. Place in the freezer for about 45 minutes. Remove from the freezer, pull the cling film tight and hold in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Your custard will be set and cool enough to take the heat of the broiler without melting the custard.]
Recipe by Donna Marie Zotter. Photo by Kelly Cline.