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Romantic Dessert Made Simple: Lavender Creme Brûlée

Lavender is a delicate and beautiful flower that has an aroma that can transform a basic recipe to something truly romantic. This elegant yet simple recipe given to me by my friend Chef David Lawrence for creme brûlée will impress your guests for that special Valentine’s Day dinner, especially when presented in adorable heart-shaped ramekins. If you don’t own a kitchen torch, don’t worry: you can still caramelize the top of the brûlée in the oven. But I highly recommend you pick up a torch if you want to make this or other fun and festive dishes. Dried lavender can be found at most high quality grocers and kitchen stores like Williams Sonoma. You may experiment with the amount of lavender depending upon your desired taste.

Lavender Creme Brûlée – The Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 TBSP dried lavender flowers
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided

Method:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Place a large baking dish in the center of the oven and fill it with about an inch of boiling water to create a water bath.

Meanwhile, spray 6 (1/2 cup) ramekins with non-stick cooking spray.  In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream and the lavender flowers to a simmer.  Remove from heat and allow the mixture to steep for five minutes.  Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve to remove the lavender flowers.

In a large bowl, mix together the egg yolks and half of the sugar until light and creamy.  Slowly add the cream to the egg mixture,  a little at a time, whisking constantly.  You want to temper, not scramble, the eggs.

Pour the custard into the ramekins, filling them about 2/3 full.  Place the ramekins in the baking pan and add more water if necessary to bring the water three quarters of the way up the sides.

Bake for 60 minutes or until the custard is set around the edges but still has a slight jiggle in the middle.  Cooking time will depend on the size of the ramekins.  Begin checking at 30 minutes.  Let the custards cool in the water bath for 30 minutes, then chill for at least two hours.

When ready to serve, sprinkle the remaining sugar over the custards and using a small hand-held torch, caramelize the tops until they bubble and turn golden brown.  If you don’t have a torch, place the ramekins on a sheet pan six inches below the broiler for a few minutes to achieve the same effect.  Refrigerate for ten minutes before serving.

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