I’m not sure it gets more classic than crème brûlée. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the classic—cool custard flecked with specks of vanilla bean and made thick and butter-colored by the addition of golden egg yolks—I think it’s time we take a step away from vanilla and get a little more creative.
All you need to do to make this crowd-pleasing dessert is create a custard using cream, sugar, and yolks but what you add to said custard is completely up your whim. This time around, I opted to flavor my custard with toasted pistachios and honey. The resulting dessert is warm, nutty, and wonderfully floral. And I still used vanilla bean because I’m weak for those flecks. —Ashley Rodriguez
- Serves 4
pistachios, toasted until just fragrant
- In a food processor, grind the pistachios until finely chopped, taking care not to create a paste.
- In a small saucepan, combine the heavy cream, vanilla bean, honey, salt, and chopped pistachios. Bring the mixture to a simmer, give it a stir, then let it steep for 30 minutes so that those amazing flavors can infuse with the cream.
- In a medium bowl, give the egg yolks a gentle whisk.
- Preheat your oven to 350° F, then place 4 small oven-safe dishes or ramekins in a roasting pan filled with enough water to reach halfway up the sides of the little dishes.
- Slowly add the warm cream mixture to the eggs while whisking. Use a fine mesh sieve to strain the cream and yolk mixture into a bowl.
- Divide the custard between the four dishes (about 1/2 cup for each serving).
- Carefully transfer the roasting dish to the oven and bake until the custard is just set around the edges but still a bit jiggly in the middle, about 20 to 25 minutes
- Let the custards cool in the pan, then refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.
- To add that deep, caramelized cap, sprinkle a thin, even layer of sugar on one of the custards. Use a torch to melt the sugar. You don’t want to add color at this point. Add another thin layer of sugar and again melt using a torch. The third round, add a slightly thicker, even layer of sugar, then torch it so that it's deeply caramel in color.
- Repeat the process to the rest of the custards and serve right away.
- The custards can be made 3 days in advance, but the torching should be done just before serving. It's a really great way to show-off to your guests and add some entertainment to the evening.