Monday, November 28, 2011

Spiced Strawberry Creme Brulee

I'm going to be honest; this was not the recipe I originally set out to make. I was going to make some coconut macaroon tart shells and fill them with jam and cream. And it was meant to be a nice simple recipe that you could easily make more Christmassy. Because it's coming to that time of the year, my favourite time of the year, when I can finally whip out all my Christmas baking ideas. The coconut macaroon tart shells used up a few egg whites, so I thought I'd be practical and use the leftover egg yolks to make a spiced custard to fill the shells, along with some strawberry jam. It was all going smoothly, the shells were baking in the oven, the custard mixture was coming together and the jam was slightly warmed, ready to be spooned into the bottom of the shells.
And then it all went bad. The shells refused to budge out of the tart tins no matter how hard I tried, and they fell apart. Clumps of coconut were thrown against the wall in frustration. I panicked and made up a whole new batch of coconut macaroon mixture and decided to turn it into a slice, so I pressed a thin layer of it into a tray and started baking that. Then I panicked more and decided against it and pull it out of the oven and tried to make individual cookies with it but it was already too far baked and I had to throw that away too. Balls. I really didn't want to waste the custard mixture that I had already made, it was so delicious and would be perfect for the holiday season. So in my last ditch effort at saving SOMETHING, I made these; Spiced Strawberry Crème Brûlée. The custard is flavoured with golden syrup, cinnamon, ginger and all other kinds of spices, and at the bottom sits a layer of strawberry jam and a little bit of brandy. And of course that thin, glossy layer of caramelised sugar on top that makes the perfect, satisfying crack as your spoon breaks through it. It wasn't too shabby considering the crazy, messy path I took to end up there.
Of course, in my panicked state I didn't have a lot of patience so I probably underbaked these crème brûlées a little. Or a lot. And I barely chilled them, so the ones you see in the pictures are no where near as set as they should be. But they tasted oh so delightful, and all those beautiful spices made the mixture extra delicious (though the spices do make the custard look a little ugly and brown). Digging a little deeper gets you that hit of strawberry jam goodness, which would taste just as great if you substituted it with cherry jam, or marinated some freshly chopped strawberry pieces in some sugar and brandy overnight. The possibilities are endless.
So no coconut macaroon tarts, but I still somehow managed to pull off a simple recipe that feels like a good way to transition into holiday baking. Hopefully my next attempt at something will be slightly less disastrous, I still have a lot of cleaning up to do in the kitchen thanks to this debacle :( In the meantime, feel free to check out my Christmas baking ideas from previous years, which you can find in the 'Holidays' section of my Recipes Index. I'd definitely like to see a few more Gingerbread Igloos this year.
Spiced Strawberry Crème Brûlée
(adapted from this rhubarb and vanilla creme brulee recipe, makes approx 6)
430ml (about 1 1/2 cups) whipping cream (35% fat pouring cream)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways (can be replaced with 1 tsp pure vanilla extract)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
6 egg yolks
75g (1/4 cup) golden syrup (replace with 75g sugar if unavailable)
About 2/3 cup strawberry jam mixed with 1 tbsp brandy (optional) - alternatively chop up 1 punnet strawberries and marinate overnight in 2 tbsp sugar + 1 tbsp brandy (optional)
Caster sugar for burning

Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Place cream in a small saucepan, scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the cream and add the bean, cinnamon, ginger and all spice. Bring to the boil over high heat. As soon as it boils, remove from the heat and set aside for about 10 minutes.
Place egg yolks in stainless steel bowl and use a whisk to combine. Add golden syrup and whisk for about 30 seconds, or until the syrup has combined and the mixture is pale. Pour the slightly cooled cream through a fine sieve, discarding the vanilla bean, then pour the cream into the egg yolk mixture, stirring well to combine.

Spoon about 1 tbsp of the strawberry jam & brandy mixture into the bottom of 6 1/2 cup ramekins and then add the warm custard mixture over the top until full. Place ramekins in a deep baking tray and pour in enough water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake in oven for about 45 minutes, or until just set. Remove from the oven and cool, then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Spoon about 2 tsp of caster sugar over each ramekin and caramelise the sugar with a kitchen blowtorch, or with your grill. Serve immediately.
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  1. Sorry to hear about the tart mishap! These look delightful though - I'm a big fan of creme brulee. I hadn't thought of putting a layer below the custard, I'll have to try.

  2. I love creme brulee. Thanks for all

  3. Delicious!! It all worked out in the end :) have a little brulee to relax, THEN start wiping the coconut from the walls lol

  4. This looks like a wonderful end to a kitchen mishap. I wish my disasters had such wonderful happy endings!!! :)

  5. that sounds like a good save to me. creativity in response to a potential kitchen panic attack moment. wish i have your thinking hat! :)

  6. This looks very interesting, I bet it's delicious.

  7. I love the lighting in your bright and fun!

  8. Wow, what a special recipe! Great combinations.

  9. You just can't go wrong with Creme Brulee! Love it.

  10. Sometimes the best recipes come at the most unexpected times...and if you hadn't had the tart mishap then you might never have made these. They look absolutely delicious, and love the idea of a jammy layer beneath the custard.

  11. I think all bakers have had mishaps, but at least it all didn't go down hill. Look at your spiced strawberry creme brulee babies! I would devour that in a second! (as would everyone else)

  12. oh dear these brulees are nommy.

  13. At least part of it was salvageable =) I can assure you that my cooking disasters normally turn out much worse for wear than this!

  14. Looks delicious! Exactly the thing to satisfy my sweet tooth.

  15. I love your photos, they look great! And the creme brulee looks delicious!

  16. i love the pics !! and want to eat this right now : ) We don't eat eggs in our family, what would be the substitution of eggs in this recipe ? Thanks a lot !!

  17. I discovered your blog last night off of a Pinterest hop. I spent the next 2 hours drooling over your cakes and sweets! Awesome blog!! Just wanted to let you know :)

  18. LOVE this!! SO going to make this soon my goodness... Creative flavours, Steph! Lovely

  19. JUST took these out of the oven. They look and smell (and taste... I cheated a little and snuck a taste) WONDERFUL! My strawberries floated to the top since I didn't use jam but I think it will still taste good and looks fun. I can't wait to fire them! Thank you for sharing your discovery.


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