Stage 4 – Seraing/Cambrai: The north of France produces sugar from sugarbeets, so I thought it would be fitting to make a sweet dessert. And what better than a classic crème brûlée! I have added a little peppermint to the custard as this is also a popular local flavour. Make sure you use peppermint syrup and not peppermint essence. I use the Monin brand but you could also use a mint liqueur such as Crème de Menthe.
- 200 ml milk
- 200 ml cream
- ½ vanilla bean, halved lengthways, seeds scraped
- 1 tbsp peppermint syrup
- 4 egg yolks
- 80 g caster sugar, plus 2 tbsp extra
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat the oven to 120ºC. Place 8 x 80 ml (⅓ cup) capacity ramekins into a roasting pan. Place the milk, cream, vanilla bean and seeds and the peppermint syrup in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat.
Meanwhile, place the egg yolks and 80 g caster sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine well. Whisking continuously, gradually pour the hot milk mixture onto the yolks and combine well. Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a jug. Divide the custard among the ramekins, then bake for 30 minutes or until just set. Remove from the oven and stand until cool, then refrigerate until cold.
To serve, combine the extra sugar and the brown sugar in a small bowl. Remove the set custards from the refrigerator and sprinkle a small layer of sugar mixture over the top. Use a domestic blow torch or cook under a hot grill until the tops have caramelised. Stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd. Food preparation by Alice Storey. Creative concept by Lou Fay.