Chasing Delicious | Duo of Crème Brûlées: Citrus and Chocolate
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Duo of Crème Brûlées: Citrus and Chocolate

Exploding flames of color and flash litter the smokey sky. Technicolor lighthouses guide in the new year. Bubbly drinks are poured back on earth. Sips are taken and cigars are lit. A cute couple dances in the knee high grass, spinning under a swirl of dancing flashes and bright bangs. Two little kids chase each other through the field with sparklers and two older kids chase each other with roman candles. A kiss is shared. Hugs are exchanged.

New Year’s celebrations always reminds me of past new years, like in 1997-1998 when the artillery shell I was launching didn’t quite launch. I vividly remember my family and dozens of our neighbors jumping from their comfortable chairs to dive for cover behind mailboxes, cars and bushes. I, too curious and stupidly young, stood there and watched as the massive artillery shell exploded five feet above the ground, mere yards in front of me in the middle of the once quite cul de sac. Purpley blue orbs of light exploded with a bone shaking boom outwards in every direction leaving a white comet trail tracking their ascent. Many hit the ground with a smack and bounced back up in the air. Others seemed to take aim at cars, houses and trees surrounding the suburban street pelting each with tinny clinks and bangs. I stood in the middle of a firework as it exploded and it was one of the most beautiful man-made events I’ve ever witnessed. It may have been at the expense of a few burns but it was worth it.

That slight error in judgement I made as a kid brings me to my first goal for 2012. While the concept of new year’s resolutions seems a bit antiquated and silly, I am a goal driven person. I always set goals for everything I do. Whether or not I set those goals on December 31st, I believe goals are instrumental in finding success. In 2012 though I plan to be less afraid of failure. I am going to run right up to, and past, the edge of what I know I can achieve and am comfortable with. I hope to push myself harder than ever before. If I fail, at least I know I tried. If I find success, then I won’t be surprised as to why.

I plan to experience life more, to spend more time searching for things I have yet to see, experiences I have not yet been a part of and to meet people who are barely strangers right now. I will hop out of my comfort zone and do something that will make my tummy tie itself in knots. I will embrace anxiety as a sign of adventure. I will truly dance into the unknown. I won’t be afraid to ask, “what is that fuzzy looking vegetable?” in broken spanish.

I will spin under the stars for no reason and collect beautiful leaves on long, purposeless walks. I won’t look back in fear but I will focus forward in excitement. Dreaming will be my way of planning for the future. Celebration will be my way of acknowledging the little successes in life.

I will tell my best friends I love them and hug my family every time I see them. I will stop being afraid to tell them when I’m nervous, sad or angry. Mostly though, I will remind them that they are the reason I smile so much.

Most importantly I will eat more sweets. I will indulge in what my heart clamors for and I will try that dish I’ve been to afraid to try for the past 25 years. I will even find a way to make such indulgences a part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. And I will photograph every second of it.

A new year is simply a way to count the days and pass the time but it is also a chance to reacquaint yourself with life, with the beautiful colors and smells that hide around you already, the wonderful sights and strange sounds you’ve learned to ignore. 2012 will be a year I never forget. Like the years behind it, they will be filled with life lessons, random laughing, big smiles, heartbreak, moments of pause, delicious food, great friends and even failure.

2012 will not be unlike this duo of creme brûlées. I will take what I know and love, and experiment with it, change it into something I have not yet tried before. It will be a chance to turn something simple and common into something extravagant. It will be a reason to search for the deliciousness in life. It is another year to chase everything I love.

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Citrus Crème Brûlée

This recipe is inspired by and adapted from a recipe by John Degnan, of The Lodge at Koele, Hawaii.

Difficulty: Intermediate

Tip: When removing the rind of a citrus fruit, do your best to only remove the colored part, avoiding as much white as you can (the white is very bitter).

Tools

Paring knife
Heavy bottomed pot
Whisk
Bowl
Fine mesh sieve
4, 4 ounce ramekins
Large baking dish

Ingredients

Rind of 1 lemon
Rind of 1/2 orange
Rind of 1/2 grapefruit
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks (from large eggs)
1 ounce granulated sugar

Instructions

1.  Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2. Place the citrus rinds in a pot of water (just enough to cover the rinds) and bring to a boil. Strain the rinds from the water and place back in the pot with fresh water. Bring to a boil again and repeat this step a total of three times. This will help remove the bitterness from the citrus rinds.

3. Pat dry the rinds and add them to a clean, dry heavy bottomed pot. Add the milk and cream and bring it just to the boil.

4. While the liquid is heating, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl just to combine. Set aside.

5. Once the milk and cream is at a boil, remove from the heat and temper the egg mixture. Pour all the liquid and rinds into the bowl and let the mixture steep until completely cool.

6. Once cool, strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve. Evenly pour the strained liquid into 4, 4 ounce ramekins. Place the ramekins in a large baking dish and fill the baking dish with very hot water (half way up the ramekins).

7. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes until set. Let cool and refrigerate at least an hour before eating.

I suggest preparing the chocolate creme brûlée  while the citrus one cools and steeps so you can bake all of them together.

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Chocolate Crème Brûlée

This recipe is inspired by and adapted from a recipe by John Degnan, of The Lodge at Koele, Hawaii.

Difficulty: Intermediate

Tools

Heavy bottomed pot
Whisk
2 Bowls
Fine mesh sieve
4, 4 ounce ramekins
Large baking dish

Ingredients

1 ounce dark chocolate (70% cocoa butter)
1 ounce cocoa nibs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks (from large eggs)
1 ounce granulated sugar

Instructions

1.  Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2. Finely chop the dark chocolate and place in a bowl. Set aside

2. Place the milk, cream and cocoa nibs in the heavy-bottomed pot and bring it just to the boil.

4. While the liquid is heating, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl just to combine. Set aside.

5. Once the milk and cream is at a boil, remove from the heat and temper the egg mixture. Add the remaining liquid and the tempered egg mixture into the bowl with the finely cut chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts. Let the mixture cool so the cocoa nibs can infuse the custard.

6. Once cool, evenly pour the liquid into 4, 4 ounce ramekins and place the ramekins in a large baking dish. Fill the baking with very hot water (half way up the ramekins). Bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes until set.

7. Let cool and refrigerate at least one hour before eating.

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Decorating

Citrus Creme Brûlée: 

I suggest serving the citrus creme brûlée in the traditional style, with a caramelized sugar crust. This can be done by sprinkling a thin, even layer of sugar over the chilled creme brûlée. Using a propane torch, carefully heat the sugar, constantly moving the flame around the sugar, until it begins to melt and caramelize. Let the caramel crust cool slightly and harden. Serve right away – the sugar crust will begin to get soggy quick, so this step should only be done just before serving.

If you don’t have a propane torch you can use a broiler. Turn your broiler on high and slide the ramekins – with the layer of sugar on top – under the broiler. Watching carefully, keep the creme brûlée in the oven until the sugar begins to caramelize. Remove from the oven and let cool so that the caramel crust can harden.

Chocolate Creme Brûlée: 

I suggest serving the chocolate creme brûlée with a light sprinkling of shaved chocolate. It is super simple and it accents the chocolate creme brûlée nicely.

 

You can decorate both with citrus zest or even candied citrus peel.

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Note from Chasing Delicious: This recipe and blog post is dedicated to my late uncle, Larry Squicciarini. Like me, he was a man with many dreams who was never afraid to chase them. He was a chef and a photographer at different points in his life and both of these pursuits have inspired me to follow my own dreams into cooking and photography.

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AUTHOR - Russell van Kraayenburg

Founder of Chasing Delicious, and author of Haute Dogs, Russell's works have been featured in Southern Living, Men's Fitness, Redbook, TRADHome, and Real Simple magazines and on various sites including Lifehacker, Fast Co., Business Insider, The Kitchn, Live Originally, Quipsologies, Explore, and Fine Cooking. Follow Russell on Twitter @rvank and Instagram. Get more delicious @chasedelicious.

35 Comments

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  • Lynn @ I'll Have What She's Having

    Happy New Year, Russell! Your goals for the year are things we should all aspire to, I think. Good luck!

  • Tina@flourtrader

    Happy New Year! Your goals for this year are inspiring and I wish that 2012 is all that you hoped for and more.
    Your creme brulees are a spark of uniqueness to me for I have only seen and tasted the vanilla ones. Both of these look to be well worth making for someone special or for a special celebration. I have saved both recipes.
    Through the years people my come and go, but we always remember the ones that left their mark or impression on us, great dedication to Larry.

  • Vanessa

    Loving this post. It’s nice to get a behind the scenes look at your photo setup. Great goals too. I’m a goal-setter myself. =)

  • Kathryn

    I love this post and your goals for the year, it sounds like 2012 is going to be a whole lot of fun here on Chasing Delicious!

  • Amy

    Happy New Year Russell! Wishing you the best in the year to come, you have such lovely thoughts on resolutions. These creme brulees sound amazing! I love that there is both chocolate and vanilla here, and the pairing with citrus is perfect!

  • Ali B

    These look delicious! I’m going to have to get some ramekins.

  • Kimberly (unrivaledkitch)

    both creme brulees are beautiful. All you said resonates well with me. I’m glad that you can see these things and go after them with an open heart and a sound mind. Its a very honest and beautiful direction to take your life. Thank you for sharing your sweets, photos and words with me. They are always so wonderful and I wish you the happiest 2012 possible. Cheers

  • kelly

    Great post!!

  • Tiffany

    I would scarf down both of these brûlées! The citrus is particularly appealing to me!

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    Amen to that, my friend! To not being afraid of failure! To living life! To enjoying sweets!

    Happy New Year! May we meet in 2012!

  • Maggie @MaggieCooks

    I always love your pictures and recipes but today I truly enjoyed reading this blog post!
    You inspired me to think the same.

    “If I fail, at least I know I tried. If I find success, then I won’t be surprised as to why.”

    I’ll try to read that phrase every time I feel something didn’t worked out! :)
    Thank you and Happy New Year!!

  • Faith

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog! Your blog is stunning and I love this post. Your goals are inspiring and the creme brulees are, I’m sure, every bit as delicious as they are beautiful.

  • Meeta

    Dearest Rus! In my eyes you are a hero for saying this “Most importantly I will eat more sweets. I will indulge in what my heart clamors for” May I join you? I truly wish that 2012 is a wonderful experience for you and look forward to chasing more deliciousness with you.

  • thelittleloaf

    Happy new year! What great resolutions, and I love the comparison with this gorgeous duo of desserts. Your photos are beautiful and inspiring as always – can’t wait to see what 2012 brings.

  • Baker Street

    Happy New Year R! I hope this year is everything you want it to be and more! The Crème Brûlée is to die for! I can’t think of a better way to kick start the year!

    Cheers!
    A

  • Sylvia @ My Lovely Bites

    Hi, it’s the first time I swing by but how I wish I did earlier! Your photos are wonderful and I am a huge fan of crème brûlée in all its flavours, so I can’t wait to try these recipes. Have a great 2012 and may all your resolutions become reality in all their scrumptiousness!

  • Bel | Ooh Look

    Wow, such a gorgeous dish, and a lovely post to accompany it. I agree, eat more brûlée!

  • RavieNomNoms

    Happy New Year! Good for you! It is always so exciting to jump outside of that little box of comfort…it is amazing what you find! I was brave enough to do that towards the end of last year and I am running head on this year the same way, you won’t regret it!

    Btdubs, your photos…as always, so breathtaking!

  • Jackie @ Domestic Fits

    Ummm…I want to figure out a way to LIVE inside this post. Seriously, LOVE everything about it. I’m a goal setter too, and not just on New Years. I’m more of a New Month resolution type of person. My goal this year is similar to yours: Balance my “way to hard on myself push towards my goals” with adding in a little “step back and be proud and give yourself a break for not being perfect” Good luck to both of us :)

  • JulieD

    I love your writing and I love goals for 2012. Beautiful! I hope we get to meet in person this year!

  • spiceblogger

    First of all: Love love LOVE the logo!

    Secondly: your bravery at the edge of this new year is inspiring :) I plan to do much of the same. Look to really see, sniff to really smell, love and share and push myself forward and further.
    Cheers to a new year!

    and Thirdly: Y U M. Seriously. YUM! ;)

  • Vicki @ WITK

    I love your resolutions, especially the eat more sweets idea. These creme brulees look delicious too, I really like your series of photos.

  • kitchenriffs

    Love both recipes, but particularly the citrus one – I’m a sucker for anything citrus (even though I’m a major chocolate fan, I’ll almost always select something citrus if I can choose only one).

    But what’s really great about this post are these words: I will indulge in what my heart clamors for and I will try that dish I’ve been to afraid to try for the past 25 years. I will even find a way to make such indulgences a part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. And I will photograph every second of it. Really well said. Amen.

  • Elyse @The Cultural Dish

    Creme brulee is the best!! I love both of your variations and I also live your resolution to indulge in more sweets!

  • Isabelle @ Crumb

    Happy New Year, Russell. I absolutely adore your resolutions… it’s nice to see someone write that they’re going to eat MORE sweets, for a change. :)
    Also, I really want some of that creme brulee – I can never decide between chocolate or citrus, and with this way, I don’t have to pick!

  • Beth Michelle

    Your aspirations for the coming year are what everyone should always strive to do! I wish you luck in it all this coming year!!
    Your creme brulees look stunning and divine. I love creme brulee!

  • Amy at Gastronome Tart

    The hubby loves Creme Brulee so these will be a must try. They look delicious! Happy New Year!

  • Caelynelizabeth@gmail.com

    Thanks for stopping by! Your pictures are so gorgeous I can’t get over them. In 50 years my photos will still not be this great.

  • JJ @ 84thand3rd

    What a brilliant post on which to discover your blog. I have the same approach to resolutions and goals – and, lets be honest, to sweets as well! Very Happy and Delicious New Year wishes to you.

  • Jill @ MadAboutMacarons

    So glad I stumbled upon your post – loved your writing and photos, as well as your sweet goals for 2012. Cheers to stepping out of the comfort box and living life to the full. Inspiration indeed!

  • Raymund

    Ohhhh, that creme brulee looks so delicious, if thats served in front of me I would definitely cannot resist it.

  • Georgie

    One thing…. SWOON!

  • Rims

    I love ur photos! Gorgeous!

  • Pearlyn

    It’s good to know that someone is chasing their dreams based on passion. I am also chasing mine. And I know at times it can be very fearful and doubtful. You will do great. Love your photos. They are such wonderful inspirations. :)

  • Diana

    Hey there. Just a quick clarification–we should remove the cocoa nibs before baking, yes? A sieve is listed in the tools section, but the instructions never say to strain out the nibs or anything else for that matter. I decided to leave them in for the sake of adventure–who knows, right? They were wonderful, but as I probably should have guessed, the nibs lost their fun cruchiness and became soft and tasteless. Still, awesome recipe. I’ll be making it again soon (sans baked nibs).

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