Crème Brûlée Shooters with Honeycomb

What should I make for the “Love At First Bite” blog hop, many sweet memories came to mind… french macarons, banoffee pie, date and banana shooters, panna cotta, chocolate eclairs, Pavlova… the sweet list goes on! But a firm favourite that stands the test taste of time, is crème brûlée. The words that come to mind when eating this dessert are…  rich, smooth, silky, creamy… with a light caramelized crunch… a kind of culinary heaven!

The literal translation of crème brûlée  means “burnt cream” by which the sugar topping is quickly caramelized using the grill or a hand-held blow torch.

My crème brûlée has a slight twist, I have replaced the traditional caramelized sugar topping with some home-made honeycomb. If you like Crunchie bars then this easy to make honeycomb is quite similar.

Crème Brûlée Shooters

Ingredients:

  • 3 large egg yolks (whites can be used for Pavlova)
  • 2 tablespoons castor sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • crushed honey comb or icing sugar

How to make:

  • In a heatproof bowl combine egg yolks and castor sugar, whisk vigorously until pale and slightly thickened.
  • Pour the cream into a saucepan and gently heat until the sides of the cream start to bubble. Remove from heat and gradually pour the hot cream into the egg mixture while whisking.
  • Place the mixture over simmering water, stir constantly with a spatula until the mixture thickens, this can take about 15 minutes. Pour into 6 or 8 (depending on size) small shot glasses and refrigerate until set which can take a couple of hours or leave overnight. Just before serving scatter over some lightly crushed honeycomb.
  • If you are not using the honeycomb, dust over a light layer of icing sugar over the set custard and using a hand-held blow torch caramelize the sugar until browned. I would not recommend putting these shot glasses under the grill due to the intense heat unless you use appropriate heatproof dishes!

Honeycomb

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 75g castor sugar
  • 60g golden syrup
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

How to make:

  • In a small saucepan (with high sides) add the water, sugar and golden syrup and place over a low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.
  • Increase the heat to medium and boil the syrup until it turns a more golden colour, this will take about 3 minutes, be careful that it does not burn.
  • Turn off the heat and immediately add the bicarbonate of soda and mix it in quickly. It will foam like mad and start to bubble up the sides of the pan, quickly pour the bubbling honeycomb onto a slip mat or baking tray covered with baking parchment and allow it to flow level. Leave the honeycomb to cool and crisp up.
  • Break into large pieces and store (separate with baking parchment) in an airtight container until needed. Can be made a day ahead.

Honeycomb can be served alongside a shot of espresso, crush and folded into some home-made ice cream, scattered over mousse and cheesecakes or just enjoyed as it is!

This post has been part of the “Love At First Bite” blog hop! Click on the badge and check out all the other entries!

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making your own cheese!

fromage blanc or just say cheese!

After managing to make some home-made yoghurt using my yogurt/cheese appliance and being very satisfied with the results, cheese making ( had made a ricotta style cheese before) using rennet tablets was next on the list!  I thought it better to start with a basic un-ripened soft cheese. Having found a very informative site for cheese making for beginners (me) and managing to get my hands on some rennet tablets, I was very excited to get started.

Most cheese recipes start off by using large volumes of milk (10 liters) but I was using my yogurt/cheese appliance (can be made without appliance) that could only accommodate 1 liter of milk. I needed to scale down the volume of milk and hope that my cheese making attempt would work… it  did and the result was a soft dense spreadable white cheese with a slight tangy taste that I and my tasters were very happy to devour… once the camera had been set aside!

Fromage Blanc

  • 1/8 tablet rennet
  • 1 liter fresh whole milk
  • 1oz  buttermilk culture
  • fine sea salt

How to make:

Pre-heat the yogurt/cheese maker using the cheese setting.

Dissolve the rennet tablet completely in a tablespoon of warm water.

Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat the milk gently until it reaches a temperature of 35˚C (check using a thermometer), remove from heat.

Add the buttermilk and stir well. Next add the rennet and stir for about a minute until thoroughly combined.

Pour the milk into the sterilized jars (used all the jars ) and  place jars without lids into the yogurt/cheese appliance and leave undisturbed for 12 hours.

Once the twelve hours were up you could see that the milk had set (curds) and the whey was visible.  As the yogurt/cheese appliance has only two jars with strainers I used another strainer with a very fine mesh placed over a jug to strain the rest of the curds.I left the curds to drain (covered in the fridge) for 9 hours which resulted in a soft cheese.

I still felt that I wanted a firmer cheese so I achieved this by placing all the cheese together in the one strainer, laying over some grease-proof paper and placing a 1lb weight on top of the cheese to expel more whey. After another two and a half hours I decided that I was happy enough with the firmness of the cheese. Now I know why cheese-making is made with large volumes of milk… so much whey  drains from the curds and the resulting cheese was not much bigger than a Boursin Cheese!

Before shaping the cheese I mixed in about 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt for flavor, salt also helps with preserving the cheese. I only left the cheese to sit un-eaten in the refrigerator (covered) for one day to further mature.

The cheese can be eaten at this stage or matured further by salting and turning...but that will be another cheese for another day and another post!

Rather than mix the herbs into the cheese I topped the cheese with some garden fresh herbs (thyme, basil and chives), some home-dried tomatoes and a few twists of black pepper, eaten with some crackers… delicious!

valentine’s day garnish

Flowers, chocolates ( yes please ) and dining are always high on the menu for Valentine’s Day and many people love to mark the occasion. But then, there are some who would rather stay at home and not get caught up in the hype. If flowers and chocolates are not for you and you find the whole romance thing a bit much, you could always garnish your food with a subtle touch of romance. Remember when Richard Gere in the movie “Shall We Dance” came up the escalators with a single red rose… well you can place your single edible rose on what ever your heart or stomach desires.

Cherry Tomato Rose

Ingredients:

  • firm cherry tomatoes (or you can use bigger tomatoes)
  • chives or parsley stalks
  • mint leaves or parsley leaves

How to make: Using a sharp paring knife cut thinly into the top of the tomato creating a base for the rose, which should still be attached to the tomato. Continue cutting a thin spiral strip around the tomato just under the skin.

Roll the strip of tomato skin up and onto the base to form the rose.

Fresh chives or parsley stalks can be use for the stem, fresh mint leaves or parsley for the leaves. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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