Horchata Crème Brûlée


Horchata Crème Brûlée

Creme brulee may be old fashioned, but it’s a classic, a personal favorite, and a versatile flavor canvas. Don’t be intimidated by making creme brulee at home, it’s a straight forward process and is the ultimate reward.

The traditional method includes steeping hot cream with a vanilla bean and then whisking the strained vanilla cream into a bowl of egg yolks and sugar. This custard base is then poured into ramekins and cooked in a low temperature oven in a water bath. Setting the ramekins in a baking dish and adding enough water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins ensures a low even temperature for the custards to cook evenly and set properly. The custards are chilled before sprinkling with sugar and torching to create the seductive crunchy creamy contrast.

Get creative and steep the cream with different spices, herbs, citrus zests, tea leaves, coffee beans, cacao, or any other flavorful dry ingredient to infuse the custard. I often infuse the cream with chai spices or earl grey tea.

One of my favorite films, Amelie,  dreamily captures the satisfaction of breaking into a perfect creme brulee.

I first made horchata creme brulee after moving to a primarily Mexican neighborhood where I was gulping down jumbo cups of horchata to balance the heat of all the spicy green chilis and molés of which I have since become highly addicted. Together with tamarindo and jamaica, horchata is one of the three typical aguas frescas found at taquerias. While the recipe varies from region to region, the base of horchata is typically rice milk, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla. More elaborate versions may also add almonds or other nuts, sesame seeds, spices, cocoa and coconut. With horchata and creme brulee being two of my favorite sweet and creamy indulgences, it seemed an obvious fit and tempting challenge to unite them at last. Below I have included recipes for my Horchata Creme Brulee just in time for Cinco de Mayo, as well as a Classic Creme Brulee.

Horchata medium 1132x1692 971.04kb

Horchata Creme Brulee

Makes 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cream
  • 2 cup cooked basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted unsalted almonds
  • 2 Tbsp white sesame seeds (or 1 Tbsp raw tahina)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
  • Pinch each of salt, nutmeg, and allspice
  • 6 Tbsp sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 6 egg yolks

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a pot, except the sugar and yolks.
  2. Bring to a simmer, cover, let steep off heat, covered and undisturbed for 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 275°F and line a 9×13 baking pan with a clean dish towel.
  4. Strain the cream and discard the rice (or turn into rice pudding along with any extra cream).
  5. In a mixing bowl, whisk sugar and yolks for about 3 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved.
  6. Whisk in 3 cups of the cream and divide custard among six ramekins in the baking dish.
  7. Place dish in the oven and carefully pour enough hot water into the dish to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins without spilling any water into the custards
  8. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the custard is just set but with a slightly jiggly center. Let the custards cool at room temperature in the water bath for half an hour.
  9. Remove from water and cool completely before wrapping in plastic and chilling for at least two hours or up to two days.
  10. When ready to serve, sprinkle each custard with an even layer of sugar and torch until deeply caramelized. If you don’t have a kitchen torch, broil well-chilled custards on the top oven rack until caramelized.
  11. Let rest for five minutes to set the crust before cracking through that glorious gold.
  12. Enjoy!
Photo by Regan Stiegmann

Classic Creme Brulee

Makes 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 Tbsp sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 6 egg yolks

Instructions:

  1. In a medium-sized pot, combine cream, vanilla pod with pulp, and salt. Bring to a simmer, cover, and immediately remove from heat. Let steep, covered and undisturbed 15 minutes. *This is the step to get creative.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 275°F and line a 9×13 baking pan with a clean dish towel.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk sugar and yolks for about 3 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Whisk in the strained crem and divide the custard among six ramekins. Place in baking dish.
  5. Place dish in the oven and carefully pour enough hot water into the dish to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins without spilling any water into the custards
  6. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the custard is just set but with a slightly jiggly center. Let the custards cool at room temperature in the water bath for half an hour.
  7. Remove from water and cool completely before wrapping in plastic and chilling for at least two hours or up to two days.
  8. When ready to serve, sprinkle each custard with an even layer of sugar and torch until deeply caramelized. If you don’t have a kitchen torch, broil well-chilled custards on the top oven rack until caramelized.
  9. Let rest for five minutes to set the crust before cracking through that glorious gold.
  10. Enjoy!

+ Leave a Comment