We’ve jazzed up the classic French custard with a wallop of fresh ginger in addition to vanilla, topped with a brittle layer of sugar. The thickness of the brûlée sugar is a controversial topic. Some like it really thick; we think the sugar should be like the first freeze on a puddle, so thin you can see the custard underneath.
We use a blowtorch to caramelize these, but if you don’t have one, they can be prepared as below and broiled for a few minutes to caramelize the sugar! The only drawback to this method is that you need to refrigerate the brûlées for 1 hour after broiling to reset the custard or broil with molds in an ice bath.—Todd English, Paige Retus, and Sally Sampson
2 cups heavy cream
2 ounces sliced fresh gingerroot, about 1/4 cup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar, plus additional for caramelizing
5 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the blackberry crush
2 pints fresh blackberries, rinsed
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).
2. Place the cream and gingerroot in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Off heat, steep for 1 hour.
3. Place the vanilla, sugar, egg yolks, and salt in a bowl and mix to combine. Reheat the cream over medium heat and bring back to a boil. Pour the cream over the egg mixture in a steady stream, whisking all the while. Pour through a strainer and discard the solids. If desired, cool in an ice bath and refrigerate up to 2 days.
4. Pour the custard into eight 5-ounce ramekins. Place the ramekins in a large baking pan and fill halfway with hot water. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the tops quiver but do not ripple, about 35 minutes if the mixture is hot when put in the oven, or 50 minutes if chilled. Set aside to cool. (You can cover and refrigerate the custards at this point up to 2 days.)
5. Sprinkle the tops with sugar and caramelize with a hand-held propane torch set on medium using short sweeping strokes. Serve immediately.
Make the blackberry crush
1. Using your hand, gently crush 1/2 cup of the blackberries. Place the crushed and whole berries, sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl, mix to combine, and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
2. Serve over brûlée.
Recipe © 2000 Todd English. All rights reserved.