Ok, my friends, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. If you haven’t made a plan for your loved one, you need to do so now. Most likely dinner reservations are not an option. Creating an entire dinner menu, purchasing the items, and cooking may work, if you’re an organized person with a decent amount of free time on your hands. If not, perhaps you should order some take-out and focus on a homemade dessert for a nice dinner at home. Add a bottle of your date’s favorite beverage, and it should be a wonderful evening.
To round out our Romantic Valentine Desserts series, we have a Cardamom-Spiced Crème Brûlée. Although the name of this dessert may sound daunting, it really is quite simple to make. Of course, if you want to serve this on Valentine’s Day, you need to start either the day before or early that morning.
Cardamom-Spiced Crème Brûlée
Judith Choate, author of A Reader’s Cookbook
8 large egg yolks, at room temperature
¾ cup superfine sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cardamom
¼ cup light brown sugar, sifted
Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof mixing bowl, whisking vigorously to blend and help the sugar dissolve into the yolks.
Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat just until tiny bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Immediately remove from the heat and, whisking constantly, beat about ¼ cup of the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture to temper. Continuing to whisk, beat in the remaining cream along with the vanilla and cardamom. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into either eight 4-ounce or six 6-ounce custard or crème brûlée dishes.
Place a baking dish large enough to hold the custard dishes in the oven. Carefully transfer the filled dishes to the baking dish. Add enough cold water to come at least 1 inch up the sides of the custard dishes. Heat the oven to 300ºF. Bake for about 1 hour, or just until the custards have begun to set but are still a bit loose in the center when the dish is moved.
Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the dishes to wire racks. Let cool to room temperature. When cool, cover each dish with plastic film and transfer to the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.
When ready to serve, preheat the broiler. Remove the custards from the refrigerator. Uncover and, using a paper towel, remove any moisture that is sitting on top of the set custard. Place the dishes on a baking sheet of a size that will fit under the broiler. Place the brown sugar in a fine mesh sieve and lightly coat the top of each custard with the sugar. Place the dishes under the preheated broiler and broil for about 1 minute, or just until the sugar has melted and bubbled. It will harden as it cools. Serve while the custards are still cold with a crackling caramel top.