I’m not a dessert girl, but Valentine’s day is coming up, so you might want to think about a tarted up sweet for your sweetie. And besides, you get to play with a blow torch.
500ml/18fl oz double cream
1/2 vanilla pod
100g/4oz extra fine sugar
6 egg yolks
zest of 2-3 lemons
Additional sugar for top crust
Kitchen Stuff you’ll need
small oven proof ramekins (those little single serving dishes)
a baking pan big enough to hold all of the ramekins
mini blow torch (or you could use the broiler, not as much fun, but effective)
A sauce pan, a stainless steel mixing bowl
A whisk & a pair of tongs
1. Pre-heat the oven 325F/165C. Put a large kettle of water on to boil because you are making a ‘bain marie’, which means a water bath to cook the custard.
2. Pour the cream into a saucepan. Using a thin, sharp knife, split the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape the seeds into the cream. Toss the vanilla pod skin into the cream as well.
3. Bring the cream to the boiling point, lower the heat and simmer gently for two minutes. You can remove more of the vanilla pod seeds if you let the pod steep in the hot cream, but then you wind up messing around with a hot pod, so this your decision. Remove the pod. You can dry it and store in your sugar bowl for a little vanilla aroma, or toss the pod.
4. Separate the eggs. Reserve the whites for something fun like a frothy cocktail (we are prepping for Valentines day, after all.)
Using a whisk, beat the sugar and egg yolks together in a stainless steel bowl until pale and creamy.
5. While whisking continuously and chanting love spells, add warm cream to the egg mixture. Add the lemon zest and return to medium heat for 2-5 minutes. You want to see the custard start to thicken. Take care to whisk thoroughly because you won’t be able to strain the mixture because of the lemon peel.
6. Using a ladle, fill the ramekins 3/4 full and place in the roast pan. Add hot water to the pan until it is about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
7. Carefully place the roasting pan in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the custards are just set firm but with a little bobble in the center.
8. When the custards are done, being super careful not to pour hot water on yourself (can you tell I’ve done this a few times??) remove the roasting pan from the oven and then using tongs remove the ramekins and allow to cool.
9. Wrap each ramekin tightly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge until you are ready to serve. When it’s time to serve, add a little fresh lemon zest to the surface, then cover the surface with a thin layer of extra fine sugar. Now, either go at it with the blow torch, or place under the broiler for a minute or so until the sugar melts, bubbles and caramelizes.
What you do after dessert is your own business.