Simple custard uses local honey. It’s March in our small town of Hendersonville. The produce markets have slimmed down with the cold of winter, but several items are still available. Let’s start with honey. It comes from the nectar of flowers, sage blossoms, sourwood and dandelions, raspberries, clover and wildflowers.
Honey is available locally at The Hendersonville Community Co-op located at 715 Old Spartanburg Hwy. Also, another source for local honey is Earth Fare located in West Asheville or on Hendersonville Road.
So stop down at the Co-op or Earth Fare and pick up the Wildflower honey and use it in this month’s recipe – Lavender and Wildflower Honey Crème Brulee. I tested a recipe from The Girl and the Fig Restaurant owned by Sondra Bernstein located in California. The restaurant has several versions of this dessert, but the lavender crème brulee brings the guests back, says Bernstein.
As you crack through the thin layer of sugar and take your first taste, you will be delighted by the perfumed flavor and velvety texture of the custard.
Photo Credit: 59kilos
Lavender and Wildflower Honey Creme Brulee
- 2 ¼ cups heavy cream
- ¾ cup milk
- 3 to 4 lavender sprigs or 1 ½ tablespoons dried lavender
- 8 egg yolks
- ½ cup sugar plus 4 tablespoons sugar for sprinkling
- 2 tablespoons wildflower honey
- 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- 2. Place the cream and milk in a saucepan and add the lavender. Bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Let the lavender steep for about 15 minutes or until the milk is flavored. For a stronger taste, steep longer. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks, sugar and honey until smooth. Temper by slowly drizzling the hot cream mixture into the cool yolks and whisking constantly. *This method slowly raises the temperature of the eggs without the risk of curdling or scrambling. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and skim off any foam. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- 3. Pour the mixture into 6 ramekins or crème brulee dishes. Set in a baking dish and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides. Cover the baking dish with foil and place in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes or until set. (Test for doneness by jiggling the ramekins.) Take the baking dish out of the oven and allow the ramekins to cool in the water bath for 5 minutes. Remove and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. 4. Before serving, sprinkle the tops with a thin layer of sugar and caramelize with a small torch or under a broiler set on high. Garnish each crème brulee serving with lavender sprigs or dried buds.
Chef Note: As this part of the process, slowly add the cool mixture to the hot mixture. This is tempering the eggs. This technique is used to blend uncooked eggs into hot liquid. The beaten eggs and a little of the hot mixture are stirred into warm (temper) them. This slowly raises the temperature of the eggs, without the risk of curdling or scrambling the egg.