Monday, June 4, 2007

I. Lavender Creme Brulee

2 1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
1 – 1 1/2 tbspn dried lavender flowers, plus buds for garnish
8 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, plus
3 tbspn for sprinkling on top
2 tbspn honey

1. Butter 6 6-ounce crème brule or custard ramekins and set them inside a large, shallow baking dish.

2. In a large, heavy saucepan, add the cream and milk and add the lavender. Bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Let the lavender stems steep for about 10 minutes or until the milk has a lavender flavor.

3. While the milk infuses, in a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks, the 1/2 cup sugar, and the honey until smooth. Whisk into the slightly cooled lavender-cream mixture. Temper this by pouring a bit of the egg mixture and blending well before adding the rest of the egg mixture.

4. Strain combined mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and skim off any lavender flowers and foam.

5. Divide the mixture evenly among ramekins and refrigerate for 3 hours.

6. Preheat oven to 325°F. Add enough hot water to the baking dish that holds the ramekins to reach 3/4 up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the baking dish with foil and place in the oven.
7. Bake for 50 minutes or until set around the edges. Remove the baking dish from the oven and allow the ramekins to cool in the water bath. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

8. When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle the tops with a thin layer of sugar and caramelize with a small torch or under a broiler set on high. Hold the torch 4 to 5 inches from the sugar, maintaining a slow and even motion. Stop torching a touch early, as the sugar will continue to cook for a few seconds afterwards.

9. Refrigerate 10 minutes before serving. Garnish each crème brûleé with lavender blossoms.

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