I haven’t been able to participate in Abby Dodge’s #baketogether for several months, and I’ve really missed it! Her recipe this month is for vanilla pots de crème with strawberry sauce. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to jump in. I raise fancy breed chickens and have a steady supply of farm fresh eggs. I make a lot of egg dishes, and my crème brûlée is a family favorite. I usually make a simple rich & creamy vanilla crème brûlée, but for #baketogether I wanted to create something new. I’ve been enjoying the FL oranges we’ve been getting here in PA, and I also have a large ginger tuber growing in my greenhouse. I liked the idea of those two flavors together, so I decided I would make Ginger Crème Brûlée with Blood Orange Caramel Sauce.
I took Abby’s original recipe, added ginger to the already heavenly custard and made a companion caramel sauce with blood orange. I just used my last vanilla bean pod and need to order more, so instead of a pod I used a good madagascar bourbon vanilla bean paste. (Maybe I will win Abby’s vanilla extravaganza giveaway this month! fingers crossed…) You can see the hunk of ginger root I dug from my garden this morning on the grater. I decided to use 1/2 vanilla-infused sugar and 1/2 Fieldstone Farm raw honey to sweeten the custard. And you can see the beautiful hues of the eggs that I am getting from “the girls” – they know Spring is on the way!
If you can find farm fresh, free-range chicken eggs (truly pasture raised!) you will appreciate the difference. The yolks are a much deeper orange color and overall the eggs will have more texture. They have been proven to be healthier too. (Coming from someone who thinks crème brûlée is an appropriate breakfast food, you can see how health concious I am!) I whisked the yolks, then added the half & half, sugar, honey and salt. Stirring constantly over medium heat it took about 4 minutes for the custard to reach 170′ and coat a spoon nicely:
Just off the heat, I added the vanilla bean paste and about 1 T. freshly grated ginger. I filled the ramekins nearly to the top but left enough room for a nice coating of sugar:
I had enough custard for an additional heart ramekin. I filled a baking dish with hot water to halfway up the sides of the ramekins:
While the custard was baking in a 325′ oven for about 30 minutes, I made the blood orange caramel sauce:
BLOOD ORANGE CARAMEL SAUCE
2/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
scant 1/2 c. fresh squeezed blood orange juice
2-3 t. grated blood orange peel
First, I juiced about a half cup orange juice. I combined sugar and water in a heavy small saucepan and stirred over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolved. I turned the heat up and boiled without stirring until it was a deep amber color, occasionally swirling pan, about 8 minutes:
I carefully added the orange juice and orange peel (it bubbled furiously.) I stirred over low heat until it was smooth and all the little caramel bits had dissolved. I let it completely cool, then covered it and let it stand at room temperature:
To fuse the caramel sauce with the custard, I took Abby’s idea of scooping out a bit and adding the sauce but I used a chopstick to make several little pockets and used a squeeze bottle to fill each with caramel sauce. I didn’t have to worry about being “neat” because I was going to cover it over with sugar to carmelize:
All you need to fire up the brûlée is a small hand-held propane tank, economically available at a hardware store. A long lighter comes in handy too.
The flame didn’t show up in the picture (I’d give my right arm to be ambidextrous!) but you can see on the left how the sugar melts, bubbles and turns brown as you go. The end result is a brittle topping of caramel yumminess. I have used virtually every kind of sugar for brûlée, here I used a brown organic turbinado which turned very dark brown. (Fine white sugars make a more or less clear brûlée, and then there’s everything in-between.):
**Note: Don’t carmelize the brûlée more than a couple hours before serving. The wonderfully brittle “crust” will soften, which is a cardinal crème brûlée sin!**
I served additional blood orange caramel sauce on the side, it really brought a lot to the party!