Christmas is just round the corner and the planning, food shopping and cooking is in full swing! There'll be thirteen people round our table this year - the most ever - so there will be a lot of hungry mouths to feed. I'm excited!
On the menu this year for the vegetarians is Mushroom Wellington with Spinach & Stilton, winter vegetable and Cheddar pie, Potato & Pumpkin Gratin, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, sage and onion stuffing, slow-cooked cheesy leeks, whole roasted cauliflower, roast parsnips, buttered carrots and Brussels sprouts.
For dessert I am making a chocolate log with meringue mushrooms (I'm very excited about the mushrooms!) and someone else is bringing chocolate cake and a trifle. But I think this white chocolate-ginger crème brûlée would work very well for Christmas too. They can happily be made in advance (a few days in advance if you like) and require very little time and effort from you on the day. And the ginger is very Christmassy!
What will you be cooking this year? If you're still stuck for ideas, check out my Vegetarian Christmas Recipes round-up - lots of good ideas there! And if you don't find anything you fancy there, get even more yummy suggestions on my Vegetarian Christmas Food Pinterest board.
I do love a crème brûlée. I mean pretty much anything creamy is good for me, but a delicately set custard with a crackling caramel top is about as good as it gets.
There is very little that can be done to improve the plain vanilla crème brûlée, but I thought I'd give it a try anyway! The inspiration for this dish came from Wagamama - an Japanese-style restaurant chain in the UK. I ate a white chocolate and ginger cheesecake there some years ago that I remember being particularly delicious, so I thought these flavours would work in a crème brûlée too.
I used fresh ginger for this recipe and I personally wouldn't substitute it with dried ginger powder. I find the flavour of dried ginger very overpowering and think that the zingy freshness of ginger root helps cut the creamy richness of the white chocolate and custard much better.
One note of caution - it is important that you use raw Demerara sugar for the topping.
I tried using white sugar once and it was not a success. Somehow the finer grains seemed to take longer to melt properly and the colour and crust weren't as good. You also miss out on that lovely caramelised flavour that raw sugar imparts.
Lastly, be sure to keep a close eye on your custards as they cook, particularly towards the end of cooking. You want to catch them when they are just setting - not too liquid or too firm. You should aim for them to be set around the edges, but still have a little jiggle in the middle - they will continue to cook and firm up as they cool.
Rich, creamy and luscious, zingy and chocolately!
I'd love to hear what you're planning for Christmas dinner this year - or what you ate if you get to this post after the big day!
White chocolate crème brûlée
- 700 g double cream
- 1/2 vanilla pod seeds scraped
- 60 g fresh ginger peeled & finely grated
- pinch salt
- 6 egg yolks
- 50 g white sugar
- 100 g white chocolate
- Demerara sugar to caramelise
- In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, vanilla pod and seeds, grated ginger and salt just to the boil, then turn off the heat and leave the mixture to steep for at least an hour - the longer the better.
- Melt the chocolate either using a microwave (medium heat, 30 second bursts) or in a bowl set over a pan of boiling water. Leave to cool slightly.
- Preheat the oven to 140c. When the cream is ready and while the chocolate is cooling, in a separate bowl gently whisk together the yolks and sugar until smooth, trying not to add too much air to the mixture. Add the cooled cream and gently whisk to combine. Add the lukewarm (but still fluid) chocolate and gently combine. Pour the whole mixture through a sieve and into a jug.
- Set six ramekins (I used wide, shallow ramekins to maximise the amount of caramel topping) in a tall-sided baking dish. Pour the custard mixture into the ramekins and place the dish in the oven. Slowly pour water into the baking dish, enough to come up about two-thirds of the way. Bake for about 45 minutes - the actual time will depend on your oven and the size and shape of your ramekins. They are ready when the edges are set and the centre is still jiggly.
- Cool on the counter, then refrigerate until firm and fully set, at least four hours. Once they are completely chilled, cover each custard with plastic wrap.
- When you are ready to eat them, add about a teaspoon of Demerara sugar to the top of each ramekin and tap to distribute the sugar evenly across the top. Melt the sugar with a blow torch (a grill is not going to cut it!) and return to the fridge for about half an hour to make sure the custard is completely re-chilled.