image Crème Brlûée

I am obsessed with cooking shows. Give me Masterchef any day and I will happily ignore you for the whole day; well of course, it is possible only if the show is playing out through the day. Lately, due to certain unfortunate circumstances, I am stuck with watching My Kitchen Rules hosted by Pete Evans and Manu Fieldel. Well, unlike Masterchef I am not really fond of this show. The challenges are quite moderate and repetitive in nature and the bitch-fest that goes amongst the contestant literally starts to get on your nerves. However, you really do learn a lot about food; which meat should be cooked to what extent. What you should expect out of a desert. What flavors work, and what don’t.

So recently I had the opportunity to try out the infamous crème brlûée. Traditionally a french dessert, the crème brlûée comprises of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. It was surprising to find such an exquisite delicacy in an Indian menu. However restaurants has undergone a rapid change in India, showcasing a class and sophistication that could not have been imagined earlier.

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crème brlûée at Salt Water Cafe, Mumbai

How does it taste like? Absolutely freaking amazing. The custard is rich and creamy and just melted in mouth. However the carmelized layer was a bit soft due to the use of fresh fruit topping.

History:

Food origin is a debatable topic; while most foodies consider crème brlûée to be a part of french culture, Spain and England have joined the debate regarding the origin of this delicacy.

Trinity College in Cambridge, England claims to be the birthplace of the dessert, and refer to as a ‘burnt cream’, whereon the college crest was burnt into sugar on top of a custard using a hot iron (which is still on display at the school). Early French versions of the dessert had a separately prepared caramel disc layered on top of the custard, rather than the contemporary (and English) method of caramelising the sugar directly onto the custard. The Spanish call their dessert as crema catalana and claim to have invented it in the 18th century and generally served as a cold dessert with a hot topping

Variations:

Technically the crème brlûée is about how the sweet the custard is. However, with time, chefs have become more adventurous with the custard flavoring. It is no more about creamy, rich custard; now the flavour varies from the zest of citrus fruits to vanilla beans, cocoa, coconut extract and fresh fruits.

If you go by the definition, crème brlûée talks about a topping made of caramelized sugar. However, depending on the chef and style cooking, sometimes liquor is used as a topping and lit on fire for a more dramatic presentation. IF kitchen blow torch is not available, some chefs broil the topping after the custard is cooked.

I learnt from the show that, a well-cooked crème brlûée can, not only bring tears to the eyes of judges, but also can turn the table towards a favorable outcome. If you want to learn about how to prepare this delicacy, then simply follow the directions given in the link here.

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