Buttered Walnut Creme Brulee
I meant for this to be butter pecan.
I LOVE butter pecan. It is probably my favorite ice cream flavor. And I thought, it ought to flavor other things too. And I set about scheming a fantastic new flavor of creme brulee.
But then I went to the store, and I got walnuts instead. I want to say it's because they intrigued my super creative brain, that I was just looking for something different and challenging. It was probably that. But also they were cheaper.
But guess what. Buttered walnuts = totally amazing. They are bitter where pecans are sweet, although both are nutty and toothsome (toothsome...toothsome...).
Their earthy, sweet bitterness gave a new depth to this version of creme brulee. Just like I hoped it would.
One thing went wrong - an unfortunately visible thing. I used cane sugar rather than white, so the top sort of...blistered, rather than caramelizing evenly. Sigh. Oh well.
But this still qualifies as a top ten favorite dessert for me. For a few reasons. First, because I made lots of buttered walnuts, and ended up eating the leftovers like popcorn (which they taste like, but nuttier) for the next few days.
Know what else was neat about this? Chopped walnuts float. I didn't know that before. So where I had anticipated a nice even blend of crunchy nuts through the cream, they floated up during baking and formed a lovely sweet/salty layer right against the caramelized sugar on top.
The result? Layers. Of flavor. Burned sugar, intensely sweet, followed by salty, butter-bitter walnuts, and smooth, silky cream to finish.
It was the best and I am proud. Because I sorta invented it. Yup. I'm taking all the credit, without even googling to see if anyone else has done it. This is officially Icy Violet's Buttered Walnut Creme Brulee.
Because that's the kind of girl I am.
Buttered Walnut Creme Brulee
1 c walnuts
3 T butter
1 T sea salt
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
2 T granulated sugar (not organic cane! not organic cane...)
First, butter your walnuts (or pecans). Preheat oven to 400. Put walnuts in a skillet over medium high heat with butter and sea salt. Stir together until butter is melted and ingredients are thoroughly tossed and mixed. Spread them on a baking sheet and toast, 7 - 10 minutes (keep an eye on them, they may not need this long and you don't want to burn them). Set aside to cool. When cool, grind them up (or I suppose you could start with ground walnuts...that might have made things easier. Hmm).
Heat the oven to 325. Place a large saucepan of water on to boil (this is for the bain-marie, later).
Pour cream into a small saucepan. Bring it to a simmer over medium-low, until it begins to steam, but do not boil. Remove from heat.
In a heatproof bowl, beat together the egg yolks and the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in the warm cream and mix well. Do this carefully so the cream doesn't cook the eggs.
Place the bowl over a simmering saucepan of water over low heat and stir constantly, until mixture coats the back of a spoon. This will take about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and ground buttered walnuts.
Pour mixture into 6 individual ramekins. Place in a 13x9 baking dish with a dish towel on the bottom for traction. Fill the pan with the boiling water, about halfway up the ramekins. Place in the oven and allow to cook for 30 minutes.
Remove the ramekins from the water (carefully!) and allow to cool. Then refrigerate over night.
The next day, preheat the broiler. Sift an even layer of white sugar over the custards and place them under the broiler. Move the dishes as needed so they brown evenly. You can also use a kitchen torch.
Cool completely before serving.