Truffle Honey Crème Brûlée
There are a few things that make this version of crème brûlée different from others. First, we used duck eggs for extra richness. Second, we used truffle honey for a touch of mysterious flavor and sweetness. Last of all, we used Bourbon Barrel Smoked Sugar for the crackly, caramelized sugar topping.
These rich ingredients all come together to create one swoon-inducing dessert, fit for a king.
Truffle Honey Crème Brûlée
- 3 whole duck eggs or 4 large chicken eggs
- 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 3 to 4 Tbsp truffle honey
- 1/4 cup sugar or to taste
- 1/2 Tbsp of vanilla extract
- a pinch of salt
- 4 Tbsp Bourbon smoked sugar (substitute Turbinado or raw cane sugar, if desired)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place a rack in the upper 1/3 of the oven.
Crack the duck eggs into a large bowl and add the truffle honey. Using a wire whisk, gently beat the whole eggs and honey until the yolks & whites are completely blended. Take care that you don’t beat the eggs into a froth; this will make the top of custard slightly bubbly.
Stir the cream and milk together and heat it to scalding, either in a double-boiler or – much easier – in the microwave. It took about 3 minutes on high to heat the cream/milk to the desired temperature. Watch it carefully as it heats – you’ll know you’ve hit the right temperature when a few tiny bubbles form on the surface. Slowly pour about 1/4 of the mixture into the beaten egg mixture, stirring all the while, to temper the eggs. Allow them to stand for about 30 seconds, then stir in the rest of the hot cream.
Stir in the vanilla and a pinch of salt, then taste for sweetness. If you want your custard slightly sweeter, add some sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until you’ve reached the desired degree of sweetness. Why not use more truffle honey instead of the sugar? Truffles are a potent flavoring agent and too much could easily overwhelm the other milder flavors of the crème brûlée. Of course, you can add regular, un-truffled honey, if you prefer it to sugar. It’s up to you.
Place four to six custard cups or ramekins (depending on their size) into a casserole or baking dish large enough to hold them all without touching. Pour the custard mixture into the cups, dividing it evenly and filling them right to the brim, if possible. Open the pre-heated oven and set the baking dish on a rack in the upper third of the oven. Fill the baking dish with boiling water until the water is at least halfway up the side of the custard cups, then close the oven door.
Cook for about 40 minutes, or until the custard is just barely set. The middle should still be a little loose, but the custard will continue to cook and set up for a few more minutes. Carefully remove the baking dish from the oven and set the entire thing, custard and all, on a rack to cool. When the custard cups have cooled enough to handle, lift them from the water bath, gently wipe them dry and set aside to cool completely. After they’ve cooled, you can refrigerate the custard for 2 or 3 days if you’re not serving them right away.
Caramelizing the sugar
15 to 20 minutes before serving, remove the custards from the refrigerator and allow them to warm up slightly. Using a spoon, sprinkle just enough of the smoked sugar on the top of the custard to cover it in a very thin layer. Use the back of the spoon to spread the sugar evenly, right out to the rim of the cup. Light a small, hand-held blow torch (we used a small butane torch, specially designed for use in the kitchen). Move the flame over the sugar, taking care not to stay in one place too long. The sugar should begin to bubble and melt quickly. Try to melt the sugar completely without burning it too much, but a few dark spots are to be expected – and they taste just fine.
The melted sugar will crystallize and harden quickly, forming a shimmering glaze over the custard. Serve immediately and be prepared for oohs and aahs as your guests plunge their spoons through the crackly sugar coating to the rich, creamy custard beneath.