I decided to re-create the rosemary creme brulee for my father-in-law’s birthday and only put one layer of sugar on (he is also not a huge fan of sugary sweet) and it turned out lovely. The rosemary flavour was aromatic and light, and cut through the heaviness of the creme nicely. I served it with a sprig of rosemary and blackberries on top.]]>
p.s. just found the site and I think it’s great!]]>
Like Al above, I prefer creme caramel… except here in Manila, we call it Leche Flan. I usually make it at home too… cheaper and richer tasting that commercial variety.]]>
But I do love creme brulee. To me, it’s all about the custard, so I suppose I’m no more into creme brulee than I would be into creme caramel with just a touch of light syrup. The burnt sugar crust is nice because the hardened form of sugar doesn’t release as much sugar flavor as, e.g., a syrup. The decreased flavor release keeps it from getting too sweet. Have you ever thought about using something other than sucrose to create the crisp top? Without getting too chemical-y, you could use part isomalt, since it’s less sweet but will still get crisp. Glucose is less sweet but would also inhibit hardening, I would think.
The biggest problem with creme brulee, I think, is that the normal size is just far too large. I don’t want to eat a cup and a half of that custard. I also don’t want to eat 3 bites each of 3 different cremes brulees. But there’s nothing better than a 3-bite creme brulee. It presents a difficulty for restaurant service, because you can’t sell a dessert that small. But as a complimentary free pre-dessert, or post-dessert, it’s perfect. Or, if your restaurant were bold, offer the mini creme brulees for $2. Who wouldn’t order those?
Anyway, my favorite cremes brulees taste like custard. If there’s a flavoring, it’s subtle. The lemongrass and kaffir lime you describe above sounds great. My favorite ever was a batch of maple-flavored mini creme brulees that I was going to serve as a tease before dessert. http://www.eatfoo.com/archives/2008/12/mini_maple_creme_brulee.php]]>
Admittedly, though, cracking through the shell is kind of fun. My preference would be for a super-thin yet hard shell that wasn’t so overly sweet, if that’s possible. Then use a relatively deep and narrow ramekin, and I’ll be happy(-er). I wonder if you made the ‘shell’ separately from the custard, could you use some other technique that would allow you to have a thinner, non-sticky shell?
I’m kind of partial to pot du creme with a layer of flavored syrup at the bottom. It can be very good (and seems more elegant than brulee). In that case you can more easily control how much of the syrup you want, if you don’t like eating straight (flavored) sugar. It adds a nice little bit of surprise, too, when you poke through and discover a little pool of (say) lavender flavor at the bottom.]]>