Chefs, as with all artists, are inspired by some of the most peculiar things. I like to call this creation: Winter Forest Creme Brûlée!
Starbucks. I walked into a Starbucks shop the other day and a strange, weird new drink caught my eye. Juniper, sage, latte with a sprinkle of pine sugar on top! Someone must have fallen over in the forest while cutting down their Christmas tree, having forgotten to drink their morning cup of joe to start their day!!
Weird as it was, it intrigued me. Some reports said it tasted like dirt, or a walk in the forest. And so… I was inspired to create something fabulous out of this whimsically weird new drink. Winter Forest Crème Brulee.
The flavors were all coming together in my mind. I still had a pot of sage growing in my greenhouse. For some weird reason I always have juniper berries in my spice rack. Cream, egg yolks, and sugar: check. But, the pine sugar? I knew exactly what I would use. Mastic! One of my favorite flavors for Greek Easter bread. It is a resin from a type of evergreen tree, (easy to find on line or a Middle Eastern Market), that has the most exotic flavor and smell. Okay. I was all set to go into the kitchen and explore this exotic, woodsy, wintery dessert!
Makes 4 eight-ounce ramekin bowls (or 8 small ramekins)
- Full Cream – 2 cups
- Juniper Berries – 1 tablespoon, crushed
- Sage – 1 tablespoon, crushed
- Egg Yolks – 4 – room temp
- Sugar – ½ cup – reserve 1 tablespoon for sprinkles
- Mastic – 1 teaspoon – crushed with the reserved tablespoon of sugar
Preheat oven to 325
- Place the crushed juniper berries and sage in a small pot with the cream and bring to a slow boil. Turn off. Let it cool and steep for about 30 minutes. Strain
- Place egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, and whip until light in color. Slowly pour in cooled cream mixture while stirring.
- Pour mixture into ramekin cups. Place cups in a baking dish and pour enough water into the baking dish to create a bath for the ramekin cups.
- Bake about an hour or until center of custard looks a little firm. It will firm up completely once chilled.
- Cool for 30 minutes. Place in fridge for 2 hours.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle the Mastic and sugar mixture across the tops of the custard. Torch the tops to glaze the sugar, or simply place under the broiler for a short moment, but watch closely so it doesn’t burn.
A beautifully decadent earthy dessert!