Meyer Lemon & Thyme Crème Brûlées
Ever since eating at the Still River Cafe last weekend and sampling the rosemary-infused crème brûlée, I’ve had brûlée on the brain. And while Meyer lemons are not local, they’re in season (somewhere, albeit not Ithaca) and I knew I wanted to incorporate their sweet, floral flavor into an early spring version of crème brûlée. Thyme is a natural pairing with lemon, so I decided to infuse the cream mixture with a few sprigs of the herb along with the lemon zest.
mise en place
Crème brûlée is one of the easiest desserts to make, in my opinion, and there’s nothing that compares to how deliciously creamy and light on the tongue it is. Heat the cream, infuse it with your flavorings, temper the warm mixture into a few egg yolks, pour into ramekins and bake in a water bath (bain-marie) for a little while. Simple simple.
temper the yolks with the warm cream
bake in a water bath
they’re done when they’re set on the edges but still wobbly in the centers
Making these this time made me realize, however, that I need to invest in a small propane torch to caramelize the sugar on top. Putting the custards under the broiler is okay, and it’s what I’ve been doing for the past few years, but the sugar melts unevenly so you can end up with a few little burnt spots. This time, B saw me prepping the dishes to caramelize the sugar and ran down to the basement to get his heavy duty blowtorch. And yes, we tried using this blowtorch on one of the brûlées. Let’s just say there’s a reason the crème brûlée torches are smaller and less powerful — the sugar on the blowtorched brûlée went from raw to burnt in a few seconds! Yikes. A worthy experiment, but not ideal. Luckily, we could scrape it right off and start over, broiler-method style.
luscious, creamy and light with a nice crackly sugar topping (even if there were a few little burnt spots)
So these brûlées are absolutely delicious, creamy, just sweet enough, and pleasantly flavored with a light hint of lemon and thyme. We’ll be making them again and again this spring — I just know it.
Meyer Lemon & Thyme Crème Brûlées
an Eggs on Sunday original
Meyer lemons are sweeter and more floral than regular lemons, but if you can’t find them, regular lemons would be just as delicious.
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
zest of 1 Meyer lemon (about 1 teaspoon)
2 sprigs thyme
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar, plus more for the tops of the custards
Place 4 ramekins in a deep baking dish and set aside.
Bring the cream, milk, lemon zest and thyme to a boil. Turn off the heat, cover, and let the mixture steep for 30 minutes. After it’s steeped, heat it back up just to a simmer and then strain it into a liquid measuring cup.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar. Whisking continually, gradually pour in the cream mixture little by little (this will temper the egg yolks.) Once it’s all incorporated, pour the mixture back into the liquid measuring cup. Divide the custard mixture among the 4 ramekins, and pour enough boiling water into the baking dish to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake at 325 degrees F for 40 minutes, until the edges are set but the middles are still wobbly. Remove the pan from the oven, then carefully remove the ramekins from the hot water and place on a cooling rack. Let them cool until they’re almost at room temperature, then cover the ramekins and place them in the refrigerator to cool completely.
When you’re ready to serve them, sprinkle a layer of sugar on top of the brûlées and place the cups under the broiler for a few minutes, until the sugar is melted and caramelized (keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.) Serve immediately.