Earl Grey Creme Brûlée
I am DELIGHTED to introduce you to Saira of Give Cookies. Saira and I collaborated on a series of recipes showcasing some of our favorite fair trade and ethically sourced foods. Let's Get Cooking!
First off, I’m really excited to be guest blogging for Dominique. Since you’re reading her blog, you’re probably just as big a fan of the socially conscious movement and everything she supports as I am. I’ve loved learning about so many other socially conscious brands, companies and ways of living through Lets Be Fair.
I am a huge huge huge supporter of the fair trade movement. I firmly believe that if more people are aware of it, and demand it, the more companies will be forced to give into demand. And the only thing I have to compare it to is the recent rise in organic products. It wasn’t that big a deal a few years ago. But now, you’d be hard pressed to find a grocery store that doesn’t sell organic varieties. They know it sells, and that they will lose customers if they don’t offer it. I hope the movement goes even further so that organic is just the norm instead of some trend that a lot of people are catching onto. And I also hope that fair trade becomes a similar kind of movement.
I’m equally supportive of all things fair trade. But the area I think people can most easily choose fair trade is in their food. At the very minimum, the people who help get the food we eat on our tables should be paid fair wages. It might cost us a couple of dollars more for our coffee and tea, but if we can afford those in the first place, we can probably afford the fair trade variation.
Speaking of tea. I am a huge fan. Some people are coffee people. Some people are tea people. I am honestly both. Actually, that’s kind of a lie. I can’t deal with straight black coffee. I need more cream and flavor than actual coffee in my drink (hazelnut latte please). But tea. Oh how I love tea. I could drink cups throughout the day if I didn’t have a little baby that I’m scared of having hot drinks around nowadays. And I love that one of my favorite tea companies is fair trade and available in quite a few Target stores!
Which brings me to this dessert. Earl Grey Crème Brûlée. I really wanted the tea flavor to come out, but I also didn’t want it to be too overwhelming. For me, that perfect balance ended up being 3 bags. If you want even more of a kick, feel free to add another bag. I’ve never made anything besides a classic vanilla bean crème brûlée before this and loved infusing another flavor and definitely plan on trying a couple of other teas, coffee and maybe even lavender?
If you’ve never made crème brûlée before, it basically translates to burnt cream. It’s a rich custard topped with a layer of contrasting hard caramel. It sounds like something super fancy and daunting, but it’s honestly really easy. It is a couple of steps (baking, cooling, torching). But it doesn’t involve that much active time in mixing, etc. It’s a great dessert to make ahead of time, plus it looks like something you spent a ton of time on!
PS: If you don’t own a blowtorch or ramekins, this is a pretty good deal.
Recipe Adapted from Dorie Greenspan
1 ¼ cup heavy cream (locally sourced, like Strauss Farm)
½ cup whole milk (same as cream)
3 large egg yolks (locally sourced, I use Primal Pastures)
1/3 cup fair trade sugar
3 bags fair trade earl grey tea
About 6 tbsp sugar (I use turbinado, you can easily use granulated or brown), for topping
Ramekins: any oven safe that is able to hold ¾ cup liquid will work fine.
Blowtorch: if you don’t have one you can also caramelize the sugar in the broiler.
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Place six ramekins on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
- Bring the cream and milk just to a boil. Steep your tea bags in the boiling mixture. (If using loose-leaf tea, infuse the leaves for 4 minutes in just milk before straining and discarding tea leaves. Then add the heavy cream and continue.)
- In a 1 or 2 quart glass measuring cup or in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla together until well blended but not airy. Still whisking, drizzle in about one quarter of the hot liquid - this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle. Continue to whish while slowly pouring in the remainder of the cream mixture. Give the bowl a good rap against the counter to de-bubble the custard, then pour it into the baking dishes.
- Bake the custards for 50-60 minutes, or until the custards are set - tap the sides of the dishes, and the custards should hold firm. Lift the dishes onto a cooling rack and let the custards cool until they reach room temperature.
- Cover the custards with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably longer. (I prefer to refrigerate mine overnight) For the sugar to be successfully caramelized, the custards need to be thoroughly chilled.
- To caramelize the sugar topping with a blowtorch, work on one dish at a time. Sprinkle the top of each custard evenly with sugar - about 1 tablespoon for each dish - then torch the sugar, cooking until it bubbles and colors. Wait until the bubbles subside before serving the crèmes.
- If you don’t have a blowtorch, you can use a broiler instead. Pre-heat the broiler and fill a shallow roasting pan with the ice cubes. Sprinkle the custards with the sugar, put the baking dishes on the bed of ice and run the custards under the broiler. Don't move away from your oven - depending on your broiler, it can take seconds or minutes to caramelize the sugar, and you don't want to miss the moment and ruin the topping. When the sugar bubbles and browns, pull the custards out, remove them from their ice bed and let them settle down before serving.