Of all the desserts on a restaurant menu, a Creme Brulee always excites me the most. Well, I should say, ‘used to excite me’, that is until I had one too many over-cooked, rubbery custards. Nothing incenses me more than paying good money for a bad dessert. These days I simply make my own.
You’d think these most desired of desserts are hard to make. But, actually they’re pretty simple so long as you know the basics – the basics being to cook the custards slowly and gently, and to take them out of the oven before they’re fully set. That’s pretty much all you need to know. Easy as.
This delicious Coconut, Lime & Ginger Creme Brulee came about from watching an old episode from The Great British Bake-off where one of the contestants made a coconut and lime creme brulee. I liked the sound of it, but with no indication of how to make it, I went back to my basic Classic Creme Brulee recipe as a starting point.
I divided the liquid content into half cream/half coconut cream, steeped it with lime zest and replaced the regular sugar with coconut palm sugar. I tasted the cream/lime mixture as it was steeping and it was okay, but I felt it needed a bit more ‘punch’. Ginger came straight away to mind – luckily I had some of the fresh stuff, so in it went. Good call, as it turns out.
What I was delighted to discover was how overwhelmingly this dessert smelled (and tasted) like gingerbread – no doubt thanks to the combination of coconut cream, ginger (obviously) and the caramel flavoured palm sugar. The lime serves as a zesty complementary contrast, though it’s very subtle and certainly doesn’t overwhelm.
If you love gingerbread in custard form, you’ll definitely love this! “Best ever”, my mum said. High praise indeed. Enjoy!
- 300ml (10.1 fl oz) coconut cream or milk (I used light coconut cream)
- 300ml (10.1 fl oz) heavy cream
- Zest of 2 limes
- 1 knob of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (or to taste)
- 1/8 tsp (pinch) salt
- Caster sugar (for topping)
- Pre-heat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Fill your hot water jug with water and put onto the boil.
- Pour the coconut cream and heavy cream into a small saucepan. Add the lime zest and chopped ginger and heat gently (it doesn’t need to be stirred) until it scalds, just short of boiling. Take off heat and put aside. Let the mixture sit for about 10-15 minutes for the flavours to strengthen.
- Place the egg yolks, palm sugar and salt into a medium sized bowl and whisk until the mixture is thick and pale.
- Pour the warm cream mixture into the egg mixture – add just a little at first to temper the mixture so the eggs don’t curdle, and whisk gently for about 5-10 seconds. Pour the remainder of the cream in carefully as you continually whisk – don’t over-whisk though, as it will aerate the mixture and create foam. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a pourable jug to remove any lumps (and the zest/ginger).
- Put 5 or 6 ramekins into a roasting pan (it’s helpful to have a tea-towel folded in the pan to ensure the ramekins don’t slip about). Carefully pour the custard into the ramekins (leaving at least 1cm at the top). You may need to scoop off any surface foam.
- Now put the roasting pan into the oven (middle rack), but just before you push it all the way in, carefully pour in the jug of boiled water to fill to about halfway up the sides of the ramekins (take care not to splash water into the ramekins themselves). Now push the roasting pan fully into the oven. You may or may not like to place a piece of silver foil loosely over top if you’re worried about the custards getting too hot, however it’s usually not needed and it will slow cooking time.
- Cook the custards until, when lightly shaken they jiggle in the middle (depending on the oven and the size of the ramekins, this will take about 30 minutes). Remove the roasting pan from the oven, carefully remove the ramekins and place them on a wire rack to cool.
- Once completely cooled, put the custards into the fridge (you can lightly place a piece of silver foil or plastic wrap over top, but it’s not necessary) and chill for at least four hours (but preferably overnight).
- When ready to serve, sprinkle each custard evenly with 1-2 teaspoons of caster sugar (the more the sugar, the thicker the crust) and spread it evenly with the back of a teaspoon. Before the next step: Put each ramekin on a piece of silver foil to avoid burning the bench! Using a blow torch, and one ramekin at a time, work from the outside to the inside using small circular motions (one or two inches from the surface). Let it rest for a minute, then come back for a second or third grilling. Don’t be shy about letting the sugar burn in places – it’s meant to! Let the caramelized sugar cool and harden to form a crisp layer (at least 5 minutes) then serve.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting