Crème brulee is an elegant ending to any meal, and this version infuses the custard with pungent ginger and the warm spiciness of cardamom. The exotic flavor combination is perfect served after an Asian-style meal, such as Sesame-Crusted Tuna. Use a culinary torch to achieve the perfect sugary topping: the goal is for the sugar to make a crisp, caramelized crust that shatters as you sink a spoon into it. Ideally, the crème brulee should be served immediately after bruleeing the topping, so that the topping is still warm but the custard below is cool. Don't have a culinary torch? Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and broil them on high until the sugar melts and caramelizes. I adapted this recipe from the basic Creme Brulee formula in Michael Ruhlman's wonderful reference book, Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking (compare prices).
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Cooling time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
Yield: 6 servings
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup sugar plus 1/3 cup for topping
- 12 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Fill a glass or metal baking dish large enough to hold 6 ramekins with about 1 inch of water. Place the ramekins in the water-filled dish to make sure that the water doesn’t overflow, and add more water so that the ramekins will be submerged more than halfway. Remove the ramekins and place the water-filled dish into the oven as it preheats. Cut out six squares of aluminum foil, large enough to cover each ramekin.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, heavy cream and ginger. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let the mixture rest for about 15 minutes, to allow the flavors of the ginger to steep into the milk.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the 3/4 cup sugar until the mixture is light yellow. With a slotted spoon, remove the ginger pieces from the cream mixture. Using a ladle, gradually spoon the cream mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. When all the cream mixture has been incorporated into the egg mixture, whisk in the vanilla extract and the cardamom. Use the ladle to distribute the custard evenly into the six ramekins and cover each with a piece of the prepared aluminum foil. Place the ramekins in the water bath inside of the oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until set. The custards should still jiggle slightly but not be liquidy if tipped slightly to one side.
- Transfer the ramekins to a cooling rack, remove the aluminum foil (reserve to re-cover when you chill the custards) and let cool. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve, up to 2 days (If you are refrigerating for more than a few hours, wrap the custards tightly with plastic wrap, and blot any excess condensation off the surface of the custard with a paper towel before caramelizing the sugar.
- Just before serving, remove the custards from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap if necessary. Sprinkle an even layer of sugar over each custard and using a culinary torch, melt the sugar until it melts, bubbles and turn golden. The sugar should turn into a crisp layer. Serve immediately.