Friday, January 4, 2013

Coconut Crème Brûlée

Who besides lactose intolerant people doesn't like crème brûlée? Honestly, it was a tie between this dessert and the main course, the delectable pork roast, that had me making this entire menu. Look at the contrasts...the creamy custard and the crispy sugar. Yum! My first time making this fancy little dish and I was astounded by how incredibly simple it is to do. The hardest part was melting the sugar at the end, and that's because I'm anal and apparently a little afraid of fire.

Tempering eggs, the technique of adding hot liquid to cold whisked eggs/yolks without turning the eggs to cooked scrambled eggs, was a first for me and no longer a concern for future custards, of which there shall be plenty.

The only adaptation I made was to avoid the broiler since I was using glass custard cups instead of porcelain (aka direct-flame-proof) ramekins. That's why I bought this. Wait, I also used heavy cream instead of regular.

Coconut Crème Brûlée
adapted from Bon Appetite, January 2000, also found at Epicurious
click to print

1/2 c plus 6 teaspoons sugar, divided
6 large egg yolks
1 large egg
2 c heavy whipping cream
2/3 c unsweetened canned coconut milk
2/3 c flaked sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place six 3/4-cup custard cups or ramekins in large roasting pan.

Broiler pan in action.

Whisk 1/2 cup sugar, egg yolks and whole egg in large bowl to blend.

Combine cream, coconut milk and coconut in heavy medium saucepan.

Bring to boil.

Mine nearly boiled over in about 7 minutes.

Gradually whisk hot cream into yolk mixture.

I started by adding the hot cream in two separate 1/2 cup increments while whisking constantly to temper the eggs before nearly dumping the remaining cream quantity into the tempered yolks while still whisking.

Pour custard into cups, dividing equally.

Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cups.

Bake until custards are just set in center, about 35 minutes.

Remove from water. Cool; chill overnight.

Into the fridge 1/2/13 at 2:49 a.m.

Spread 1 teaspoon of sugar to each custard and shake the cup back and forth to distribute the sugar evenly.

Chilled custards 1/3/13 at 11:49 p.m.

Apply the flame torch directly to the sugar, waving it gently, until the sugar begins to boil. Pick up the cup and hold it vertically, return the flame to the sugar, and rotate the cup to allow the liquid sugar to form a uniform, evenly cooked disk. 

My practicing Alton's technique with the torch, holding the custard cup and turning it under the flame to evenly form the glassy "broiled" sugar disk (see this video beginning at 5:25-6:20) yielded burnt (bitter) sugar disks which didn't extend to the glass sides of the cups.

Allow to cool before serving.

Let's try that again.

Coconut Crème Brûlées 1, 2, and 3. The first one looked okay but started burning, the second one was too splotchy but I was aiming for non-bitter, and the third was just not heated enough, though the sugary-crust did break like it was supposed to.

Maybe running them under a broiler briefly would've been better.

Snap! Crunch! Nom, nom.

Die-hard crème brûlée makers and consumers will scoff at this one because coconut shreds break the pristine smoothness of the custard. Coconut junkies will say this isn't quite coconut-y enough. My dad and I thought these were the bees knees and could've eaten dozens of them. Each one was lovingly enjoyed, believe me, even though the first ones were consumed around 3 a.m. according to Mom's EST belly watch. No one can say they are bad sports!

My first time tempering eggs and it worked just great. I didn't know what I'd do with a bunch of coconut flavored scrambled eggs! If you want to see how to do this, watch Alton Brown during minutes 3:28-3:39. (This entire video is dedicated to vanilla beans and the middle majority of it is on crème brûlée. It's worth watching the whole thing!)

I saved the egg whites but wound up discarding them. My plans to make marshmallows were thwarted by time and laziness.

Total: $11.06 or about $1.84 for each of 6 servings.

Oh, and I looked up crème brûlée in the ol' Larousse Gastronomique and my 1984 edition doesn't have a recipe for it. Say what? To li'l ol' me, it's the epitome of French food and I'm a little stunned not to find it in there. Maybe they needed to save room on the 3.5 pages dedicated to Creams and Custards for the other 26 cream/custard recipes.