The delectable crème brulee is one of favourite desserts of all time and it is the main culprit for the constant overflow of egg whites in my freezer! It makes for a brilliant dessert anytime but obviously there’s nothing remotely Christmassy about it. But why should that stop anybody from enjoying the delectable combo of sweet custard and earth-shattering crispy toffee? And hey, even crème brulee can be given a festive makeover. How?
Spice it up! And add brandy and rum – the tipples of choice for drunken revellers at a bad Christmas party worldwide! Ok more specifically we’re going to eggnogtise it!
Eggnog has its European origins but it’s a hugely popular Christmas beverage in North America and Canada. Basically it’s a creamy drink of milk, eggs, nutmeg and/or cinnamon and a good lashing of alcohol such as rum, brandy or sherry. It really isn’t all that appetising to drink but it’s the perfect concoction for a créme brulee!
When ‘fresh’, it’s wonderfully subtle with the alcohol but if you leave it for a day in the fridge (if you can withhold from devouring it that is), the alcohol is more potent. In fact, I was left with a warm boozy afterglow but isn’t that the most fitting end to any Christmas meal?
Eggnog Crème Brulee
500ml pouring cream
2 tsps vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean – split and beans scraped.
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 Tbl brandy
1 Tbl rum
5 egg yolks
55g (about 1/4 cup) of caster sugar, plus extra for the brulee toffee
Preheat oven to 150°C. Place the cream, vanilla extract, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, brandy and rum in a saucepan over medium heat. When it has just come to a boil, remove from the heat and set aside.
Lightly whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until combined.
Remove the cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean (if using) from the cream. While whisking the egg mixture, slowly pour in the cream in a thin stream. Make sure you are constantly whisking as you do so to prevent the egg mixture from ‘cooking’.
Return the whole mixture back into the saucepan and over low heat, stir for about 5-7 minutes until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. To properly test, coat the back of the spoon with the custard and run your finger through it (the streak should remain without any custard running over it).
Place a full kettle of water on boil. In the meantime, pour the custard into 4 x 125ml ramekins or ovenproof dishes and place it in a deep baking dish. Pour enough boiling water until it comes up halfway of the ramekins or dishes.
Bake for 20 minutes or until just set. The middle of the brulees should still have a hint of quiver but it shouldn’t be totally liquidy. Bear in mind that if you’re using flat dishes instead of the deeper ramekins, then the cooking time should be a little less.
Remove from the oven and rest for 5-10 minutes then place it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours until it has cooled and set.
To serve, sprinkle the top surface evenly with caster sugar and blowtorch until browned and toffeed. For extra thick toffee, I like to blowtorch one layer of sugar before sprinkling some more and blowtorching again. Serve topped with berries if you wish (not exactly ‘eggnog-gy’ but delicious all the same!).