A deliciously grown-up end to a meal, it’s amazing how just three tablespoons of an Irish whiskey will transform this crème brûlée. Add a hint of grated orange zest to the custard too, if you wish.
This recipe is taken from Rachel’s latest book, Coast, available now.
for the custard
300ml (11fl oz) double or regular cream
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp sugar, plus extra for the top
3 tbsp Irish whiskey
for the caramel
125g (4½oz) caster, granulated or demerara sugar
First make the custard. Pour the cream into a saucepan and heat until almost boiling, then take off the heat.
Place the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl with the sugar and whiskey and whisk thoroughly. Pour the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, whisking all the time, then tip back into the saucepan on a low–medium heat. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir constantly over the heat until it thickens slightly – it should coat the back of the spoon and when you draw a line across the mixture on the spoon, the line will stay without the mixture dripping over.
Pour the custard immediately into your chosen bowls and allow to cool, then place in the fridge; do not cover while it is cooling, and make sure not to break the skin on the top as this is what prevents the caramel from sinking into the custard.
When you’re ready to serve the crème brûlées, put 1 teaspoon of sugar on top of each custard, gently spreading it so that it’s evenly thick across the whole surface.
Using a blowtorch on full heat, caramelise the sugar in slow circular movements, but take care not to burn it. Allow the caramel to cool and set, then serve. When making the caramel using the blowtorch method the creme brûlées need to be served within 30 minutes.
While this is the topping that I prefer on these crème brûlées, as it is lovely and light with just enough crunch, you can, instead, make a caramel in a saucepan, then spoon it over the chilled crèmes. These can be prepared a few hours in advance since the caramel will be thicker, and also deems the blowtorch unnecessary, so if you don’t own one, this is your best option. If using this method, use either caster or granulated sugar.
Simply place the sugar (with nothing else) in a medium saucepan on a low–medium heat and stir. As the sugar heats up it will start to look a little strange and grainy, but keep stirring constantly until the sugar turns a rich caramel colour (the colour of whiskey) and becomes viscose. Once the caramel is made, immediately spoon it over the surface of the crèmes in a thin layer, making sure not to swirl it around the top as this can break the surface and the caramel will sink into the crème part.
Allow the caramel to cool and set, then either serve immediately, or store in the fridge somewhere dry (away from steam) for a few hours.