Merry Christmas! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I know I sure I did! This Christmas was full of good food and family. My family spent Christmas Eve with some of Lauren’s family, which was a lot of fun. And the evening was made even better, because we got to enjoy food straight from Lauren’s uncle’s outdoor, wood burning pizza oven. Look, I love spending time with my family, but I was also pretty pumped about trying that pizza…. and I was not disappointed.
Crème fraîche, fig and arugula pizza? Check. Blue cheese, fig jam, walnut and apple pizza? Check. Potato and parmesan pizza, finished with truffle oil? Check. The only problem now is to figure out how I can afford to import a pizza oven from Italy and where I can fit it in my condo. 😉
Christmas Day I spent with my family, where we enjoyed some delicious Corn Flake Crusted French Toast and Mimosas for breakfast, after opening up our presents and stockings. For dinner, we indulged in my mom’s traditional turkey dinner with all the fixings. I was tasked with making the Brussels sprouts and dessert and both, actually, turned out pretty great. I was also given the job of taking the stuffing out of the turkey and doing a little quality control…
After I was assigned dessert for Christmas dinner, I spent some time searching the internet, deciding what I wanted to make. Last year we had a Boozy Stout Gingerbread Cake, which was delicious, but I wanted to change it up a little this year. My mom has a bunch of the little individual ramekins for making crème brûlées, so I thought I would experiment with crème brûlée this year. For previous holidays I have made a standard vanilla custard, I’ve tried eggnog custard and a few years ago, on Thanksgiving, I even made a pumpkin pie custard. Those were all good, but I wanted to try something new this Christmas.
One of my very favourite treats are salted caramels. I love the combination of the sweet caramel and bits of sea salt, they just play so nicely together. I thought those flavours would lend themselves really well to a crème brûlée. So I found a caramel crème brûlée recipe, made a few tweaks, and I came up with a delicious salted caramel crème brûlée.
The thing I really liked about this dessert is that, although crème brûlée certainly isn’t healthy, it feels like a lighter dessert, which is nice after eating a big Christmas dinner. I also served my crème brûlée with some raspberries, strawberries and blackberries, so it was nice to get in a little something healthy for dessert too.
Salted Caramel Crème Brûlée
– 1 cup sugar
– ½ cup of water
– 2 cups of milk
– 1 cup of 35% whipping cream
– 1 tablespoon vanilla
– pinch of salt
– 8 egg yolks
– coarse salt
– extra sugar for the top of the crème brûlées
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Make a caramel with 1 cup of sugar and the water by placing them in a large saucepot and bringing to a boil without stirring. The sugar will dissolve and begin to bubble. Let it boil for about 5 minutes, watching carefully as the water boils off and it begins to turn yellow. Gently swirl until the sugar turns an even golden. Take it off of the heat before it gets brown. Quickly pour the milk and cream into the caramel along with the vanilla and salt and whisk until incorporated.
Whisk eggs and then slowly pour the caramel mixture into them, a little at a time, whisking constantly.
Pour the mixture through a fine sieve, to ensure there are no lumps. Then pour the custard into ramekins or crème brûlée dishes and bake in a hot water bath in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until edges are set and centre is slightly jiggly.
Just prior to serving, sprinkle with the remaining sugar and caramelize with a blowtorch. Quickly, before the sugar cools, sprinkle on some coarse salt.
Serve and garnish with some mixed berries.
This dessert was delicious. It had a distinctive salted caramel flavour and the custard was wonderfully light, while the brûléed top was perfectly crisp.
There were a couple of things that made this recipe a little tricky. The first was that after I added the milk and cream mixture to the sugar, the sugar immediately hardened up and became a little hard to stir into the cream. I ended up having to put the mixture back on the stove on low heat in order to melt the sugar into the cream. I would recommend that when you add the cream, you add it VERY quickly and hopefully that issue can be avoided. Just be careful, if you do end up needing to heat up the mixture to dissolve the sugar, that you be careful not to let the mixture boil, to avoid curdling.
The second is the water bath. I used a large turkey roaster for the water bath and added the water, from a kettle, once the custards were in the oven. Once they were done cooking, I carefully removed the roaster from the oven and then used a silicon oven mitt to help remove the ramekins from the water. You have to really careful though, because when you pull the tray out of the oven, if you are wearing cloth oven mitts, any little splash of hot water could soak right through that cloth and end up causing a burn.
This dessert was a huge success with my family for Christmas. The best part is that there is a lot left over, so I think we might be going for round 2 tonight.