Aug 15

Vanilla + Lavender Crème Brûlée






The rich creaminess of the eggs and cream, with the scent of relaxation and bliss from the lavender and vanilla … this dessert is almost zen. With every mouthful you can just feel the stresses of the day ebbing away; with every sniff your mind starts clearing and forgets every nasty encounter; there is nothing else in the room but you and your bowl of pudding. Finally a relaxation remedy we can all eat!



Crème brûlée has got to be one of the easiest desserts to put together, yet we don’t make it enough at home … opting instead to pay lots of money for the same thing at overpriced restaurants. In Melbourne expect to pay up to AUD 10 for a single serve of this baked eggy custard. Suffice to say they do tart it up a bit by dressing the plate for you with fruit and a squiggle of berry compote. I suppose restaurants do have to cut a profit in order to survive, especially in a city like Melbourne where the food business is feisty and highly competitive. But crème brûlée is incredibly cheap and easy to make for yourself and family at home … just remember to get a blow torch.



To make crème brûlée at home all you really need are a few basic ingredients, the same ingredients you will need if you were to make ice cream, creme anglaise and custard puddings. Same basic ingredients, same technique … this is what I love about basic recipes like this on which other recipes are built on. Today I am making a vanilla and lavender one simply coz I had some lying around in a paper bag. Dried lavender is an amazing thing. It keeps forever and when you need it simply pop it into your baked goods and the perfume released from them will fill your entire kitchen. A little goes a long way with dried lavender, so use sparingly.





Vanilla & Lavender Crème Brûlée.


  • 350 mls whole milk
  • 150 mls cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 50 g sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 tbsp dried lavender flowers






It’s been a good three days now with crap weather here in the Netherlands … very odd considering it is still only just August; apparently summer is over. It failed to snow all winter here last year and now this … >> autumn in August! Twelve degrees outside and some houses are already keeping a wood fire going at night; bedding stores are already getting rid of fans and bringing out the electric blankets. My only regret is the lack of deck furniture outside … I would looooove to have a fire pit and sit around it with mugs of hot tea. When we bought this place we always intended to install the perfect outdoor furniture but nothing that suited our taste (or budget) ever came up. And then there was the issue of the weather itself … the Netherlands is known for its wet and rainy spells and, like England, there would be weeks where we would not see sun at all. So all the money was spent on holidays to other neighbouring EU countries instead. Eventually, deck furniture became less and less of a priority until it vanished entirely. Too late to moan about it now. We are moving out in a couple of months time, so perhaps we should think ahead when we find a new place.



Anyway, I digress. To make these yummilicious puddings all you need to do is gather some basic pantry ingredients as listed above. Heat the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. The vanilla bean is to be split in half and the seeds scraped out using the back of a knife. Toss the bean pod and the scraped-out seeds into the milk to infuse. Just before the milk comes to a boil, turn off the heat, chuck in the lavender and cover the saucepan with a lid. Set it aside to steep for about ten minutes or so.



In a clean bowl, crack in the egg yolks and whisk them up with the sugar until pale yellow and thickened. Now gently pour in the hot milk and cream mixture, making sure to strain out all the floaty bits. Stir the eggs continuously as you are pouring the hot milk to avoid hot spots and unintentionally scrambling your eggs.



Vanilla & Lavender Creme Brulee3



Crème brûlées are cooked in a bain marie, that is to say they are placed into a deep pan filled half-way with hot water and baked gently until the custard is set. So once the mixture is all mixed up pour the it into a pouring jug or use a soup ladle to gently fill the ramekin dishes. I find that it is far easier to place the ramekins into the bain marie first and then ladle in the custard to avoid spillage. Next place the bain marie in the oven and fill it with hot water until it comes half-way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake gently at 140ºC for 30 mins until the custard is set to the wobble stage. Remove from the oven and chill it in the fridge.



Before serving, sprinkle some crystal sugar over the top and give it a good whack with the blow torch. The sugar will melt and caramelize to form a beautiful hardened shell on the top which gives this dessert its signature crunch factor. If you like a thicker crust sprinkle a second layer of sugar and torch it a second time.






If you’d like a richer pudding then use double cream all the way and forget about the milk. These puddings are seriously comforting and are a great way to finish off a meal. Personally tho, I would happily skip the meal and head straight to dessert if this was on the menu. Actually, give me a custard dessert any time, any day, and I’d still eat it. Have I mentioned that I absolutely ADORE custard? Well I hope you try this one out and try not to suffocate yourself by overloading on the lavender. Goodluck!



~ Enjoy! ~


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