Maple-Walnut Crème Brûlée
Maple sugar in the topping and maple syrup in the custard give a lovely pronounced sweetness to this walnut-enhanced dessert.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until toasted. Transfer the nuts to a bowl.
Caramelizing the Sugar:
Different sugars produce slightly different results when caramelized. Brown sugar tends to melt the quickest, in less than a minute. Superfine and regular granulated sugar melt to form a thin, solid disk. Confectioners’ sugar should be sifted or pressed through a sieve to make an even layer so it will brown evenly. Raw sugars are slower to melt than finer sugars, but produce a nice, even browning.
The amount of sugar you use to caramelize the top can vary with personal taste and the diameter of the dish. If you use flan dishes, which have a wider diameter, 1 tablespoon of sugar is a good amount for each dish. With a 6-ounce or smaller ramekin, which has a 4-inch or less diameter, about 2 teaspoons of sugar will cover the surface nicely.
When caramelizing the sugar topping of dessert cremes brulees under a broiler, you may prefer to place the containers in a pan and fill the pan with cold water and ice to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. This keeps the containers from overheating, and you can serve the desserts immediately (rather than refrigerating them briefly to cool).
Total Timeunder 4 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Texturenutty, sweet
Type of Dishdessert
- 2/3 cup walnut halves, toasted (see Notes)
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
- 6 tablespoons maple sugar for topping
Reserve 12 walnut halves for the topping and chop the remainder. Preheat the oven to 275°F.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale in color. Whisk in the maple syrup and cream.
Place six standard-size flan dishes in a baking pan. Divide the custard mixture among the dishes. Sprinkle with the chopped walnuts and place 2 halves in the center of each dish. Pour warm water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center of each custard still jiggles slightly. Remove from the oven and lift the dishes from the hot water. Let cool briefly, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
When ready to serve, place the dishes on a baking sheet. Evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon maple sugar over each custard. Using a hand-held blowtorch, caramelize the sugar (see Notes).
2005 Lou Seibert Pappas