What is it about food and fire? Yes, fire gives us heat for succulent roasts and warm, fragrant bread. But it can do so much more. In our quest for deliciously unique sweet treat, our family’s holiday meals often culminate with a Flaming Dessert.
This tradition began over a decade ago when Crème Brulee was all the rage. Sure it’s yummy, not too difficult to make, and (bonus) can be prepared ahead of time. We wanted drama, however, and decided to put the kids in charge of the presentation. They felt too old to give us a Christmas pageant, but the thought of using a blowtorch was acceptable.
The formal Christmas Eve dinner was delicious, I am sure, although no one recalls the prime rib or Yorkshire pudding. What they all remember is the moment when 14-year-old Christian and 16-year-old Heather entered the dining room bearing a tray of custard desserts. Heather was dressed for the occasion in her dad’s firefighting gear and thoughtfully carried a fire extinguisher. Christian pulled out his own dad’s tool of the trade, a full-size construction blow torch.
In less time than Santa could round up his reindeer, Christian ever so carefully, carmelized all 15 crème brulee desserts. Heather stood at the ready, but never needed to unlock her gear. The dessert was passed around, and received a round of applause. Success! Now, what about next year?
2 cups whipping cream
5 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
Fresh raspberries and mint for garnish
Combine first 4 ingredients, stirring with a wire whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth. Pour evenly into 5 (5×1-inch) round baking dishes; place dishes in a large roasting pan or a 15 x 11 x 1-inch jellyroll pan. Add hot water to a depth of ½-inch.
Bake at 275 for 45 to 50 minutes or until almost set. Cool custards in water in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan; cover and chill at least eight hours.
Sprinkle about 1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar evenly over each custard; place custards on clean metal pan.
Carmelize sugar with propane blow torch. Let stand a few minutes until sugar hardens. Garnish with fresh raspberries and sprigs of mint.
Don’t try this at home! The Family Curator accepts no responsibility for the actions described in this posting, and reminds the reader that fire is indeed very dangerous [see forthcoming post on “The Day Dede’s Dress Caught Fire.”]