Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lemon Ginger Crème Brûlée

Crème Brûlée with a twist. Bad pun? Yes, that's true but the ginger kick makes up for it, I promise. If you have a well stocked kitchen, or workshop for that matter, and have a torch of some sort you now have an excuse to use it. If you're like me and lack a workshop and avoid gadgets, your oven's broiler will do the trick. I've now used three different oven broilers to finish this dessert and all three yielded tasty results. If you can't get the ramekins 'very very' close to the broiler using the oven racks, carefully prop the ramekins up a few extra inches using an upside down 9x13 pyrex dish or muffin tin. Please, please, please be careful- the broiler is unforgivingly hot!!!

Lemon Ginger Crème Brûlée
Makes 6

3 oz thinly sliced ginger
3 cups heavy cream
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup white granulated sugar, plus 1-2 teaspoons per ramekin for caramelizing
pinch salt
grated zest of two lemons

- Place the sliced ginger in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover the ginger and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, then pour off the water. (This destroys an enzyme that would otherwise prevent the custard from setting up)

- Add the cream and the lemon zest to the ginger. Heat until warm again and then let steep for an hour to meld the flavors.

- Towards the end of the hour, preheat the oven to 350˚F and grab 6 ramekins. Preheat a kettle of water.

- Strain the cream through a sieve to remove the ginger and most of the zest. Add the salt. Reheat the cream until quite warm, but not boiling. In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks with the sugar, until the yolks are pale and fluffy.

- Gradually add in the hot cream, whisking constantly. (This technique is called 'tempering.' If you pour in the hot cream too quickly and/or don't whisk fast enough you will have little bits of cooked egg in your crème brûlée- not awesome). Slowly add the cream until it is all well combined. Restrain the custard mixture, just to be sure, into a 4 cup pyrex cup measure, or any other bowl that's easy to pour from. Divide the custard mixture evenly between the ramekins.

- Place the ramekins in a 9x13 glass pyrex pan, or something similar, and pour the preheated water around them until the water reaches half way up their sides. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and carefully place it in the oven. Bake for 30 plus minutes until the edges of the brûlées are set and the centers are still a little loose about 30-40 minutes.

- Cool the custards completely before refrigerating on a wire rack. Once they are room temperature cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and set them in the fridge to fully set.

- Before serving, sprinkle each custard with 1-2 teaspoons sugar (to taste) and shake around so it's evenly distributed. 
Broiler Method: Place the ramekins as close to the broiler as possible, which may require you to prop the ramekins up on a pyrex dish or upside down muffin tin. Be careful! Leave the oven door oven so the custards don't cook more and remove the ramekins when the sugar has melted and started to brown, about 5-10 minutes. The time it takes for this to happen varies greatly, so keep a close eye on them. You may also have to rotate the ramekins halfway through. 

Torch Method: (Note- I haven't tried this but gleaned the technique from trusted sources across the web). It seems like a quick sweeping method is the most successful way to evenly melt and brown the sugar. Rotate the ramekin between passes with the torch, but please be careful!

Adapted from David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert

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