Usually, when one of us has a craving in this house, Dean is the one to not only execute, but is also known to make his own twist on it and this dessert is no different! We were craving creme brulee and as soon as we got our hands on a household butane torch, we had no excuse but to have some fun!
This recipe is a riff on a perennial favorite, it’s adapted from Mark Bittman’s NY Times recipe.
To make the classic vanilla Creme brûlée, simply omit the raspberries, and the rose syrup/cordial. Also, feel free to substitute 1/2 cup of your favorite strongly flavored liqueur or syrup instead of the raspberries and rose to make your own flavor!
Have you seen or heard of this kind of Creme brûlée before? We hadn’t! Coffee, chocolate, green tea even… sure! But never this combo! So when the idea popped in our heads, we had to give it a try, and we are so glad we did because it came out amazing!
Before we get to the recipe we have to explain how we got here…what makes one come to these flavors? We are very big into Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors, which means we are fans of things like tahini, olives, nuts, za’atar, saffron and floral concoctions, like orange blossom or rose water. When used correctly and sparingly, these floral waters, or cordials can add that certain uplifting floral note that makes you reminisce about being in a garden, or of a warm summer day! We absolutely love adding them to different dishes and to different cocktails. You can find these in many dishes from baklava, macarons, sweet doughs, kanefe, and even in some savory rice dishes!
This is how we arrived at the idea of a Raspberry Rose Crème Brûlée. We were eating our homemade chicken shawarma and wanted something that invoked that warm hugging feeling of a sweet floral dessert typical with these types of foods. So the idea was to make a rose creme brûlée.. but, just the Rose flavor on its own can be flat, which we definitely did not want! It needs to play off something to highlight the floral notes and contrast the sweetness. After running through the different things we had in our fridge and pantry, we realized that raspberries fit the bill perfectly! They’re tart, slightly sweet and holds a flavor that is very complimentary to Rose. The combo skews a bit into something you might have at high tea at an English garden party, but luckily it also worked at the end of a shawarma!
Raspberry Rose Créme Brûlée
– 1 pint of fresh raspberries or 2 cups frozen
– 1/2 cup granulated sugar (+/- depending on how sweet your raspberries are)
– 1/4 cup rose cordial or rose water
– 1.5 cups heavy or light cream, or half-and-half
– 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– ⅛ tsp salt
– 5 egg yolks
– ½ cup sugar, more for topping
How to make it:
First, preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Step 1. Make the raspberry coulis!
Combine the raspberries with 1/2 cup sugar in a sauce pot, you can add a few tablespoons of tap water to help jumpstart the process too. Use a wooden spoon or potato masher to crush the berries, and cook on medium heat while continuing to stir and crush. Let this process go on for 10 minutes. You will notice that the berries all breakdown into a bubbling mush, that is what you want!
Next, use a mesh strainer to separate the seeds. To do this, place a strainer over a bowl and press the raspberry mixture through the strainer, this will result in a silky raspberry coulis in the bowl. When you are done, you should end up with just a small handful of seeds left in the strainer, which you can throw away.
Clean out your sauce pot and put the strained silky raspberry coulis back in. Put your pot on a low heat and now it’s time to add your rose cordial/syrup. Let this mixture cook for 5 minutes to cook out the alcohol. By the end, you’ll have a nice smooth, delightfully pretty, floral coulis!
Reserve about 4 Tb of the coulis for the bottom of the baking dishes, the rest will be stirred into the cream.
Step 2. Make the custard!
In a saucepan, combine your cream, (or milk, half and half or combination of) vanilla bean and salt and cook over low heat just until hot. Let sit for a few minutes, then discard vanilla bean (if you chose to use one). Add in your remaining raspberry rose coulis, and gently combine. (If using vanilla extract instead of a pod, we add this to the egg yolk and sugar mixture below.)
In a separate bowl, beat yolks and sugar together until they turn a nice pale yellow. If using vanilla extract, add this in now. Slowly stir about a quarter of the cream into this mixture to temper the egg, you don’t want sweet scrambled eggs, so do this slowly! Then pour the tempered sugar-egg mixture back into the remainder of the cream and stir together.
You may notice at this point that it’s not that beautiful pink color you were expecting, that’s ok! If you’re like us and want a nice bright pink look, add 1 drop of red or pink food coloring, this is only for aesthetics, but it makes it look less brownish orange.
Spoon 1 Tb of reserved raspberry coulis into the bottom of each of 4, 6-ounce ramekins. Then, pour cream mixture gently on top. At this point, we take the extra step of skimming the froth from the top, this will make for a cleaner look after it’s cooked.
Place the dish into the oven, then fill dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the dishes. Be sure not to get any water in the mixture! Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until centers are barely set. They will look like they’re not done, and be jiggly, but that’s ok! Our way to making sure that they are done was by using a digital instaread thermometer and looked for a temp of 185 degrees or higher. Now it’s time to cool completely. Refrigerate for several hours, up to a couple of days. The flavor will marry and develop the more it sits. Day 2 will taste much more cohesive!
Step 3: Burn some sugar!
This is the step to do just before you’re ready to eat. Being food nerds we went and bought a butane food torch, it helps a lot, but you can also use a plumbers torch or even your oven broiler! The sugaring is the same no matter if you use a torch or broiler.
Sprinkle 2 tsp of granulated sugar on top of each creme brûlée, gently shake it around so the sugar is evenly coated on the top. You don’t want a lot of extra sugar, so dump off the excess.
Torch method- ignite your torch and slowly turn the dish as the sugar melts, it will bubble up and turn a nice caramelized brown.
Broiling method- Place ramekins in a broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat source. Turn on broiler. Cook until sugar melts and browns, about 5 minutes. Keep an eye though!!! You do not want all your hard work to burn!
Be careful not to let it get too dark, then you’ll have that burnt acrid taste. Burn too little, and you won’t get that satisfying “crack” when you dive in.
Last but not least, enjoy! Be sure to leave your review of this recipe and let us know how you enjoyed it!