While I enjoy unique ingredients and flavors, I’m not usually one to just throw in an ingredient for the sake of making something trendy or “gourmet.” To me, creme brulee made with quality cream, eggs, and vanilla is as gourmet as any other custard-based dessert you’ll find in a fancy restaurant. That said, creme brulee is just a simple vanilla custard, so it begs for some dressing up and play time in the kitchen. My cousin had made a delicious pumpkin creme brulee for Thanksgiving, which is what initially sparked the idea of doing another flavored creme brulee, specifically lavender creme brulee.
It’s obviously been quite a while since last Thanksgiving, but I’ve put this idea for lavender creme brulee on the back burner after I ran out of dried lavender. About a month ago, I ordered these lovely organic lavender sachets on Etsy, which I use in my linen and clothing drawers. The seller was super sweet and included an extra sachet, which I decided made the perfect opportunity to use in my culinary endeavors. The lavender worked out wonderfully in this creme brulee. The herb’s taste is subtle so as to not overwhelm or diminish the vanilla base, however, it adds just that extra depth in flavor to make your guests wonder what the special ingredient is. I’m really picky when it comes to using strong herbs like thyme, rosemary, or in this case, lavender. I prefer a more subtle taste, as I find too much of any of these herbs can leave a bitter aftertaste.
I didn’t have a working blow torch on hand for this dessert, so I just stuck my creme brulee under the broiler for about a minute, until the creme brulee turned amber and crisp with some dark spots. If you’re apprehensive about making creme brulee just because the name may seem fancy or whatnot, don’t be. Creme brulee is actually more foolproof than, say, a custard you may use for banana cream pie or for a typical pastry filling. Creme brulee bakes very similarly to pots de creme, which is also a type of French custard dessert. Simply pour your creme brulee batter into individual ramekins…place the ramekins in a large roasting pan…fill the pan with boiling water…and the creme brulee bakes in this water bath at a low temperature for approximately 1 hour. Cooled then torched before serving, this lavender creme brulee will make a beautiful addition to any dinner.
Lavender Creme Brulee
- 4 c heavy cream
- 1 tbsp organic dried culinary lavender
- 3/4 c granulated sugar plus more for sprinkling on top, divided
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 8 egg yolks
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 320°F. Bring a kettle or pot of water to a boil. Begin by heating the heavy cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the lavender and let this mixture come to a slight simmer along the edges of the pan. Do not let the cream boil.
Add 1/4 cup of sugar to the milk and stir to combine. Once bubbles begin to form along the edges, remove the saucepan from the heat. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Slowly stream in about 1/4 cup of the heated cream to the egg yolks, whisking vigorously as you do. This will temper your eggs and prevent them from turning into scrambled eggs!
Add the warm yolk mixture into the saucepan with the cream and whisk vigorously to combine. Pour this batter through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Then, use a ladle to distribute the batter among 8 ramekins. Place the ramekins in a deep roasting pan and place them in the oven on the second to lowest rack. Pour the boiled water from the kettle into the roasting pan until the
water reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins, being careful not to pour any water into the actual ramekins.
Bake at 320°F for approximately 1 hour, or until the creme brulée is set and the centers only tremble slightly. If after an hour, the creme brulée is not really set, increase the heat to 350°F for another 10 minutes or so, keeping an eye on them. Let the creme brulée come to room temperature before covering with plastic wrap and placing the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours (or overnight).
Before serving, sprinkle a teaspoon or two of granulated sugar over the top of each creme brulée. Then use a blow torch to caramelize the sugar, or place under a broiler for a minute, until the top turns crisp and amber, with just a few dark spots. Serve immediately