It was the moment when a subtle woody, fragrant scent wafted in my direction that I knew cooking and baking with fresh herbs would forever be in my culinary repertoire. One of my first classes at culinary school, an intensive course in the use of fresh herbs, we prepared a Rosemary Creme Brûlée. I couldn’t imagine how it would taste or if I’d even like it. But I had to like it. I was in culinary school and I couldn’t be the only student that appeared to have the palate of a five year old. I was over the moon in love with every other dish we’d made in that unit, but what is traditionally a savory herb was now being paired in a sweet custard. It totally worked! Since that day sixteen years ago, I’ve been using fresh herbs in all my recipes, savory as well as sweet.
If you know me or you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know another herb I can’t seem to get enough of is lavender. I adore lavender shortbread cookies, lavender scones, pinches of lavender combined with other fresh herbs over roast chicken, lemon thyme biscuits, Arugula Lemon Risotto, Arugula Chimichurri, and the list goes on. It’s a rare occasion that I don’t incorporate some type of herb or spice in my recipes; they simply enhance and elevate flavor and create food moments to remember.
Rosemary Creme Brûlée is definitely memorable. Although I prepare this dessert at home and for friends and clients (I originally created this photo and recipe for one of my favorite clients, Home By Design Magazine), I don’t think I’ve ever posted it here. Until now.
Creme Brûlée is a lush and silky custard that is so perfect any time of year. I prepare this dessert most often around the holidays but I also make it during the warmer months because I can make it in advance, pop it in the fridge and then serve it when I’m ready. Pairing it with fresh herbs changes the flavor profile but not the well loved custard. I’ve used my beloved lavender a few times as well as lemon thyme, but rosemary has to be my favorite herb in creme brûlée.
I’ve prepared this recipe a few different methods, but I think the best method is when the fresh rosemary is gently steeped in the cream, allowing the oils to subtly scent and flavor the custard. It’s a simple yet impressive dessert that will WOW your guests and your family.
Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!
- 2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream
- 1- 3 to 4 inch sprig fresh rosemary
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 2-3 teaspoons sugar
- 4 egg yolks, cold
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pre-heat the oven to 325F.
- Place four ramekins into a baking dish or cake pan. Heat enough water to fill the bottom of the baking dish and come halfway up the side of the ramekins. This is called a Bain-Marie, a hot water bath.
- In a sauce pan heat the heavy cream and sprig of rosemary over medium heat. Bring the heavy cream to a boil and then remove the sauce pan from the heat and let the heavy cream and rosemary hang out for about fifteen minutes or so, allowing the rosemary oil to infuse the heavy cream.
- In an electric mixer, whisk the sugar and egg yolks until the mixture is light and creamy, adding in the ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- Strain the heavy cream removing any and all rosemary leaves and then while whisking, slowly add the rosemary infused cream to the egg and sugar mixture.
- Divide the custard evenly among the four ramekins and place the baking dish carefully into the oven.
- Bake for about 40-45 minutes, just until the custard is set. Allow the custard to cool in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Remove the crème brulee from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving. Sprinkle the top of each custard with about ½ teaspoon of sugar. Using a culinary torch*, scorch the sugar creating the traditional burnt sugar topping.
- Serve immediately.
- *Culinary blow torches can be found at most kitchen and bath stores or larger home and garden stores.