Fruit Crème Brûlée

“I am a great fan of crème brûlée and, as such, I am invariably disappointed. Too often the creamy part tends to curdle. Too often the brûlée part is put under the Salamander grill for too long before serving so that it loses its bite. But my main criticism of so many versions is that the proportion of the creamy underbelly to the crisp topping is incorrectly judged. Above all, a crème brûlée must be served in a shallow dish.”

Nicholas Lander, The Financial Times, November 2019

Even though it has a French name, there’s a good chance this dish was invented in England Mark Hix says in his Simple Ways to Success: British. You can soak the biscuits in a fruit alcohol if you like. Best made a day or two ahead.

This cheats’ recipe doesn’t use eggs, and I am sure Nicholas Lander would not approve – but you can still get the proportions right as he describes.

Recipe for eggless fruit crème brûlée

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 350g/12oz fruit such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, mangoes… even tinned lychees, or you can poach dried fruit (apricots are good) in weak Earl Grey tea and use that.
  • 1 peach
  • 12 ratafia or 6 amaretti biscuits
  • 400 ml/7 oz/1⅔ cups crème fraiche
  • 150g/5 oz/¾ cup soft brown sugar

Options for decorating: some of the fruit itself, chocolate cigar, zest, mint…

Method

  1. Prepare the fruit by washing and cutting it into the size which can be picked up in a teaspoon (ie it is easy to eat) and divide between six shallow ramekins (dampen the rims and edges first to stop sticking).
  2. Divide the biscuits between the ramekins, placing them on top of the fruit.
  3. Cover completely with crème fraiche and leave for AT LEAST an hour, a day or so is better.
  4. Just before you are about to serve, sprinkle over the sugar and put the ramekins under a very hot grill for a couple of minutes, until the sugar has caramelised, or blast with a blow torch. Use the type which can be used for DIY jobs rather than the dedicated kitchen ones which are less strong and take forever. The Dremel is a good example.

Film clip to watch

In the film, Amélie, the eponymous heroine finds that making love doesn’t float her boat…so she delights in simple pleasures, one of them being breaking into a crème brûlée.

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