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Apple creme brulee

Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Yields Serves 6
Apple creme brulee
(Los Angeles Times)

Custard

1

Bring the heavy cream, milk, vanilla bean and seeds just to a boil in a medium saucepan over low heat.

2

In a bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs. Slowly whisk in some of the cream-milk mixture into the eggs, then pour in remaining cream and whisk until combined. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Cool.

Apples and assembly

1

Heat the oven to 300 degrees. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring 4 cups water, the sugar, cinnamon, star anise and vanilla beans and seeds to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes.

2

Cut off the top third of each apple (making little “caps”) and set aside. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each apple -- just enough so that there’s a flat surface and the apples are level. Using a melon baller, evenly hollow out each apple, leaving a half-inch wall around and going almost to the bottom without making any holes.

3

Place the apples (the tops and hollowed apples) in a 3-inch-deep baking pan. Put 1 tablespoon of the spice syrup into each apple and pour the remaining around the apples. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

4

Remove the foil. Remove the apple tops from the baking pan and reserve. Pour out the liquid inside each apple. Pour the custard into the apples, filling to the brim

5

Bake until the custard is set, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the custard-filled apples from the poaching liquid and cool. Refrigerate until cold.

6

To assemble, heat the broiler. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon superfine sugar on top of each apple. Place on a baking sheet and put under the broiler to caramelize the sugar, 1 to 2 minutes. Or use a butane torch. Watch carefully so as not to burn the sugar. Place each apple on a dessert plate and serve immediately with the apple top leaning on the apple.

From chef Craig Strong at the Dining Room, Ritz Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa, Pasadena, who says, “I like this recipe because you can eat the whole thing.” Prepare the custard while the apples are poaching.

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