OK, so I’m losing my Christmas mind. The house is a mess, I’m still looking for a few last-minute gifts and I have one kiddo that is sick. But the one thing not stressing me out is Christmas Eve dinner. Every year we keep the menu relatively similar, a beautiful cut of beef slathered with butter and herbs, the most amazing Gruyère potato gratin with herbes de provence, a lovely salad, and roasted or sautéed green vegetables. The only item on the menu that I really love to be creative with is dessert. Often I’ve done white chocolate cheesecake with raspberry coulis, or crushed peppermint. Other times I’ve done molten lava cakes with salted caramel or peppermint ice cream, and the list goes on. But today I’m sharing my favorite dessert of all and that is Cremè Brûlée. Only this beautiful velvety dream is simmered with vanilla beans and fresh shredded ginger and it’s to die for.
I have eaten cremè brûlée many places. Sometimes it’s fabulous and sometimes it’s really mediocre, but this recipe is the best version I have ever had. It trumps any restaurant anywhere. Making cremè brûlée can be daunting because you have to simmer cream and if you’re not careful it can scorch. You can also end up with scrambled eggs if you don’t temper them with hot liquid when blending everything. However, if you follow the recipe you will be just fine and may I also mention the star of your family Christmas celebration. It’s the perfect dessert not only for the holidays but any special occasion. It’s now requested by my daughter for most of her birthday celebrations.
I hope that you won’t be intimidated by this recipe and try it out. My husband even made it one time for me and if he can do it, so can you. As in traditional cremè brûlée you will want to brûlée the top with sugar. You can use brown or white sugar, but I prefer white. If you don’t have a torch, you can use a broiler and it will work just fine. I also like to macerate fresh raspberries in sugar and put them on top at the end. But either plain, or with berries or whipped creme, you can’t go wrong. Here’s a little snapshot of the dishes in their water bath before I put them in the oven.
Cremè Brûlée with Vanilla and Fresh Ginger:
- 2 Cups heavy cream
- 1/2 Cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp fresh peeled and grated ginger
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1 vanilla bean split
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees and heat some water ( I use my tea kettle). Mix the sugar, cream, and ginger in a heavy metal sauce pan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the flesh into the pan. Also add the whole bean into the pan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to very low. Simmer gently for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Watch it so that it does not boil over.
Strain the cream mixture into a large measuring cup or bowl. Whip the egg yolks in a second bowl until blended. Very gradually add the cream mixture into the eggs with a whisk until yolks are hot then switch to a spoon and mix until blended. Pour the cream mixture into cremè brûlée dishes or ramekins. Place the individual cremè brûlée dishes into the 9×13 pan then pour hot water very carefully into the baking pan until the water is half way up the sides of each dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until just set. Take the dishes out of the water bath and let cool for 30 minutes. Chill. (I usually make these a day ahead of time.) Put brown sugar or white sugar in a very thin layer on top and brûlée with a torch or under a broiler until the sugar is lightly browned and hard. Top with fresh berries or whipped cream. This recipe traditionally makes four servings so I always have to double or even triple it and it works perfectly.
May all of your days be merry and bright as you enjoy this wonderful time with family and friends. Peace, Cheers, and Happy “bruleeing!” That’s my dish!