Crème brûlée has always been one of my favorite desserts. The first time I had it I was probably 12 or 13. My best friend’s mom worked in DC, and sometimes we were fortunate enough to tag along. Her boss at the time was a lobbyist, so he knew all the good spots in town, and enjoyed taking “the girls” out to a nice lunch. We always chose McCormick & Schmicks, for the fist-sized fried shrimp – and, the crème brûlée. There’s just something about that sweet, cold custard underneath a crunchy layer of caramelized sugar. I was young, but even at that tender age, I recognized.
No matter how many times I’ve indulged in it since those days of yore, I never tired of it. It’s relatively easy to make at home (you don’t even need a torch!), and is super impressive. There are also about a million different ways you can “spin” it – seems like I’m always finding a new flavor combo for this decadent dessert.
The coconut was just perfect! It wasn’t overwhelming, but it was definitely present. I came across a couple recipes, but settled on this one because it used coconut milk. Several recipes called for adding shredded coconut to the custard, and I didn’t like the sound of that. I like the custard to be smooth, and the coconut milk kept that smoothness, but also added a ton of coconut flavor. I also felt like it was a bit lighter than a traditional custard since it uses less heavy cream than most recipes call for. I hope you enjoy this tropical twist on a classic as much as we did.
Coconut Crème Brûlée
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
8 large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 can (13-1/2- to 14-oz.) coconut milk
4 tsp. fine raw sugar or granulated sugar for caramelizing
Heat the oven to 300°F. Sift the sugar and cornstarch together into a medium bowl. Whisk in the egg yolks. Whisk in the cream and coconut milk until blended. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer and into a large measuring cup with a pouring spout.
Set four 6-oz. ramekins in a deep baking dish or roasting pan. Divide the custard evenly among the ramekins. Set the pan on the middle rack of the oven. Carefully pour hot water into the pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 30 minutes and then tent the pan loosely with foil (if it’s tight, the custard will curdle) and bake until the centers of the custard shudder gently when the ramekins are tapped, another 25 minutes (start checking at 20 minutes).
Remove the pan from the oven. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and cool slightly before refrigerating for several hours or overnight.
Just before serving, sprinkle each custard with a thin layer of fine sugar, about 1 tsp. per custard. Caramelize the sugar by using either of the methods described below.
For the torch method:
Use a slow, sweeping motion to guide the flame directly on the surface of the custard; the nozzle should be 2 to 3 inches from the surface so the flame just licks the sugar. The topping is done when the entire surface is a glossy brown.
For the broiler method:
Position the oven rack so the custards will be 2 to 3 inches from the broiler, and heat the broiler. Return the ramekins to the baking dish. Fill the dish with ice water almost to the top of the custards. Position the pan under the heat source. The sugar should begin to caramelize in 3 to 4 min.; watch carefully so they don’t burn.
Source: Fine Cooking, February 2000