I don’t want this blog to veer too far into the direction of cooking blogs. God knows the world needs another cooking blogger, but I need to tell you that I am smugger than a dog with a raw steak right now. And not because I’ve learned how to use the manual setting on my camera. Yes, triggered by the birthday of my sweet partner in crime, I have successfully wrestled crème brûlée to the ground, tackled it into submission and crowned myself the ultimate victor of the eternal battle of man versus flame.
I love my new toy.
As a result of a few rather irrelevant things, I had an awful evening last night. Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: nothing solves problems like a butane torch. Simply figuring out how the torch worked and experimenting with it worked wonders on my mood. I’m not saying you have to do something bad with it, but just having the ability to turn on a bright blue flame and torch the heck out of a jiggling, creamy dessert brings a little peace of mind in itself.
For Miss Love’s birthday dinner tomorrow, we decided to keep the menu simple: pasta carbonara (topped with lox, thank ya) and salted rose crème brûlée. As I’d never made it before, it was a daunting, yet fun project for me to tackle. Never one to stumble blindly into pyrotechnics, I decided to start practicing (as one girlfriend can never enjoy too many imperfect tester desserts) a few days early and fooled around with the flavors and the recipe. Without further ado, I must confess to you that I have decided that crème brûlée is totally my new thing. I’m utterly obsessed.
With such a versatile and pleasant base, one can almost put anything into crème brûlée. Had I more time and weren’t planning for a special event, I would have been jazzed to try upping the salt in this recipe, decreasing the sugar, and plopping a few pieces of lobster tail into the mix for a savory treat. I experimented with a few flavors and receptacles, settling on the crème you’ll see in a few days, but wanted to showcase these adorable saffron, yuzu, and pepper shooters I tinkered with in the process. The yuzu was a gift from Miss Love that I thought would be a blast to incorporate into the dessert.
Saffron, Yuzu, and Pepper Crème Brûlée Shooters (loosely adapted from here)
Ingredients (makes six shooters)
1 cup of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste/extract or 1 vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup of sugar
A few grinds of freshly cracked black pepper (I used the flower pepper from Trader Joe’s…amazing!)
2 tablespoons of honey
A few strands of saffron- enough to color the mix, but not too many
4 pieces of chopped candied yuzu
Superfine sugar for the top
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the cream and the vanilla bean paste/extract together in a small saucepan, simmering over a low heat until warm.
2. While the cream mixture is heating, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until frothy and smooth.
3. Turn off the burner and drizzle a small amount of cream into the egg mixture to temper. Don’t use too much or your mixture will seize up and scramble, but add a little at a time while stirring until it is fully incorporated.
4. Once the mixture is smooth, add your pepper, saffron, honey, and yuzu. Mix thoroughly and pour into shot glasses. The yuzu generally sinks to the bottom. I advise mixing it in and putting a few pieces into the shot glasses or sticking it in after you’ve mixed.
5. Place the shot glasses in a shallow pan filled with water and bake for 25-30 minutes. Make sure the tops don’t get brown. When they don’t quiver when shaken and are slightly porous on top, you’re good to go. Take them out and chill them for 1-2 hours.
6. Take the shooters out of the fridge and lightly sprinkly with superfine sugar. When the time comes to give them their crispy tops, don’t fear the butane. Holding the torch at an angle, lightly torch the sugar, moving from side to side so that you are not focusing the flame in one place. When the granules are gone and the sugar has bubbled and hardened, they’re done.
Would you not want to hoard these at a party? Or just eat one for breakfast? I did- twice.