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Passionfruit Creme Brûlée

I own many animals. When baking, this can sometimes lead to trouble. I have three cats, and one is an incorrigible pest. His name is Mowgli, and he likes to put his nose into everything. As a result, before I bake, I tend to shut my cats away in the bedroom (and I clean the counters, sink, etc before each cooking session as my cats are jumpers and have no manners).

I also have a German Shepherd named Charlie. Most of the time, I shut him in the living room behind his doggie gate when I cook; I have visions of him getting underfoot and tripping me when I am transporting hot items.

Why do I mention my animals in this blog? Because sometimes when you make something delicious, you pets agree and want to sample it themselves. After baking my passionfruit creme brulee, I freed the cats from my bedroom and the dog from the living room and placed the cooling brûlées in my bedroom behind a shut door. Someone, who shall remain nameless, went to retrieve some nonsense from the bedroom and left the door open.

In the kitchen, I hear the suspicious sound of slurping. I fly into the bedroom, to find my overgrown puppy devouring one of my cooling custards. Tragedy! For multiple reasons. I cannot imagine that amount of cream is going to be healthy for my dog, and creme brûlées can be tricky to bake correctly. I have experienced them splitting on me more times than I care to admit, but these were baked to perfection because I have finally created a fool-proof method. After yelling a blue streak at the dog and the unnamed door opener, I discarded the half-eaten custard, perhaps sobbing slightly.

I had three untouched custards remaining. And by gum, they are all mine. No dog, not cat, and no fool will be eating them.

I have to say, these creme brûlées are delicious (and Charlie agrees). The rich creamy vanilla is cut beautifully by the tropical tartness of the passionfruit. The crunch from the bruleed sugar contrasts exquisitely with the silky smooth custard. And the bright orange-yellow color is a feast for the eyes, all flecked with black vanilla bean seeds. 

The great thing about creme brûlée (if you can protect it) is that you can prepare it in advance for a dinner party. It is quite an impressive dessert, but one that will not keep you tethered to the kitchen. Make them the day before and all you have to do before serving is brûlée the sugar. And if you really want to wow them, brûlée them them at the table. (Just be sure to lock away your pets). Enjoy!

2 cups of heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup passionfruit juice (I use Maguary brand)
1/3 cup granulated sugar (plus more for the brûlée topping)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Get out four 8 ounce ramekins and place them into a 9 inch by 9 inch baking pan (check to make sure all your ramekins will fit together in the pan). Bring a kettle of water to a boil.

In a large bowl, beat together your egg yolks and sugar until thoroughly combined; the mixture should be pale yellow. Add in the passionfruit juice and mix well.

In a medium saucepan, add your heavy cream and vanilla bean, split with the seeds scraped out and added alongside. Bring the cream to a bare simmer. Slowly stream it into your mixutre, whisking constantly.

Remove any foam from the top of your custard mixture. Divide it every between your ramekins and slide the baking pan with ramekins into the oven. Pour the boiling water into the baking pan
around the ramekins, making sure there is enough water to go halfway up the ramekins.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until just barely set. There should be a jiggle in the center. Turn off the oven, and leave the baked custard in there a further 3 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool for 5 minutes in the water bath. Let them come to room temperature, remove from the water bath, then cover and refrigerate them for 2 hours or overnight.

Before serving, scatter each ramekin with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Turn them to coat the top evenly. With a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar, moving the torch evenly to avoid burning the sugar. See immediately. Enjoy!


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