Crystallized Ginger Crème Brûlée

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Fresh ginger plus crystallized ginger lends a double boost of hot sweetness to this creamy dessert.

NotesCaramelizing 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.

Oven-Dried Brown Sugar:

Due to the moisture content of brown sugar, it is recommended to dry it before caramelizing. Spread light or dark brown sugar out on a baking sheet in a 1/8-inchlayer and bake in a preheated 275°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until browned a shade darker. Let cool, place in a small resealable plastic bag, and crush it thoroughly with a rolling pin or flat metal mallet to make fine crystals. Brown sugar treated in this manner has an excellent flavor when caramelized.

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

Recipe Coursedessert

Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Taste and Texturecreamy, fruity, spiced

Type of Dishdessert


  • 2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
  • 3 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons oven-dried brown sugar (see Notes) for topping
  • 2 kiwi fruit (about 6 ounces total), green and gold if possible
  • 1½ cups diced fresh pineapple
  • 1½ cups diced fresh mango
  • 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier, curaçao, or other orange liqueur (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 275°F. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and fresh ginger. Place over medium heat until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain through a sieve, discarding the ginger.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale in color. Whisk in the granulated sugar until dissolved. Whisk in the flavored cream and stir in the crystallized ginger and vanilla extract.

  3. Place six standard-size flan dishes in a baking pan. Divide the custard mixture among the dishes. Pour warm water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bakein 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.

  4. To make the fruit salad: In a large bowl, toss the kiwi fruit, pineapple, and mango. Sprinkle with the orange liqueur, if desired. Refrigerate, covered, until serving time or up to 1 day.

  5. When ready to serve, place the flan dishes on a baking sheet and evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon brown sugar over each custard. Using a hand-held blowtorch, caramelize the sugar (see Notes).


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