Citizens, I am inordinately fond of the French dessert known as crème brûlée (Burnt Cream), which combines the silken texture of custard with the crunch of a layer of caramelized brown sugar on top. That glass-like shell cracking as the spoon goes through it to reach the treasure below is like the sound of angels singing the praises of the Most High (at least, to my ears).
Crème brûlée is usually served in individual ramekins or dishes. Discs of caramel may be prepared separately and put on top just before serving (this is cheating), or the caramel may be formed directly on top of the custard, immediately before serving (this is not). To do this, sugar is sprinkled onto the custard, then caramelized under a broiler or with a butane torch.
The earliest known reference to crème brûlée as it is known today appears in François Massialot’s 1691 cookbook, and the French name was used in the English translation of this book.
In Britain, a version of crème brûlée (known locally as “Trinity Cream” or “Cambridge burnt cream”) was introduced at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1879 with the college arms “impressed on top of the cream with a branding iron”, though crème brûlée itself was not invented at Cambridge. The story goes that the recipe was from an Aberdeenshire country house and was offered by an undergraduate, to the college cook, who turned it down. However, when the student became a Fellow, he managed to convince the cook to serve it.
Crème brûlée has become a classic staple of French cuisine and my version combines both the French and English DNA of this most celestial of desserts. My recipe is based on the inestimably delicious version served at the famous NYC restaurant, Le Cirque. I’ve modified it to include the flavors of lavender (from Provence, France) and Drambuie (A Scottish cordial made from Scotch whisky, honey and herbs) that I believe takes the dish to a whole new level and recognizes the dual heritage of this dessert.
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
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