I developed this for my dessert menu about 10 years ago to bring a touch of France to a small resort community in Northern California. It never went off the menu. When the daughter and I were in France and Italy recently, when she wasn't eating gelato, she was dipping into crème brûlée (please bear in mind that she'd sworn strict allegiance to the 10,000 calorie a day extreme dancer's diet. I was not, so subsisted on tastes. And she consistently said that it wasn't as good as this. Maybe that was true, and maybe she was being kind to the walking debit card.
I like to use honey here because it lends an earthy note to an otherwise all-dressed-up dessert. Please be sure to use organic lavender for what I trust are obvious reasons. In the end, few desserts comprise simpler ingredients or are simpler to prepare . . . . and more elegant to present. Watch out for the woman who isn't afraid of fire. —boulangere
- Serves 4
12 ounces heavy cream
1 tablespoon organic lavender blossoms
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
sugar for caramelizing at the end
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Pour cream into a stainless steel saucepan. Stir in lavender blossoms. Place over medium heat and cook to a scald. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 15 minutes. At end of steeping period, place a fine-mesh sieve over the measuring cup you used for the cream and pour cream over it. Kiss the lavender blossoms goodbye.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the whole egg. Add the honey and whisk until completely blended. If your mixing bowl wants to wander on you, set it on a towel.
- Whisk in the cream in a slow steady stream, whisking continuously. You don't want to scramble your eggs.
- Pour the mixture into your measuring cup. Now divide it equally among 4 4-ounce ramekins set on a small baking sheet or small casserole dish.
- Rinse the measuring cup and fill it with very hot tap water. Set the baking sheet in the oven, but overhanging the front edge a bit. Pour in enough hot water to come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Gently push it the rest of the way into the oven.
- Bake custards for about 20 minutes. When done, gently tap the side of a ramekin. If the custard “jiggles like jello, but does not wiggle like a wave,” it is done.
- I like to use a canning jar lifter to pick up the ramekins and set them out to cool. Leave the baking sheet of hot water in the oven with the door ajar until it is cool enough to handle safely.
- Let custards cool to room temperature before serving. To finish, sprinkle about a teaspoon of sugar over the surface of each one. Caramelize the sugar to a deep brown with a torch. Serve immediately. Prepare to hear "oh-la-la!"