Every year, in the Summer holidays, I would spend a month or so at Grandma’s house. We moved to a different state when I was four, and with the fury of tourist season at the guest house, it was a convenient time for us to be reunited with our Grandma, aunties, uncles and cousins. I have many cherished memories of time spent with Grandma. She is the master of balancing a generous, loving and affectionate personality, with wit, tenacity and independence. I love her.
This weekend, for the first time in my adult life, Grandma and my aunty actually came to stay with me, and my brother and I took turns hosting two big family dinners. I planned to make a risotto for mains and this espresso creme brulee for dessert, but then received a request for macarons. What was I to do but make those as well!
Macarons and creme brulee are the perfect partners, because they use separated eggs - the whites for the meringue, the yolks for the custard.
In keeping with my previous tea-flavoured macaron adventure, I wanted to try out the infusion of jasmine green tea with the white chocolate ganache. The pear filling was another ganache, with fresh pear pureed and incorporated with white chocolate, but no cream.
The sensation from the jasmine is warmth and sweetness. It’s fragrant, smooth and inviting. The pear, which I placed in the centre of some of my shells, contrasts with a still-subtle, but juicy, fresh flavour. I dyed the macaron shells a lovely pear green, matching both of the flavours quite nicely.
While amazing, macarons are very afternoon tea. Dessert is another business entirely.
Usually custard doesn’t appeal to me very much, but make it silky smooth and coat it in a thin layer of crisp, dark toffee and I’m there. Every time. This time, adding coffee (which is always more exciting in desserts than as a beverage, in my humble opinion)…lets just say I am glad that I made a double batch. Here is the single, just to get you started.
Preheat to 140C, and grease 6 ramekins.
125ml milk (I used powdered milk and water, which worked perfectly)
50ml espresso coffee (you could use instant, or plunger if you don’t have access to a machine)
1 Tbsp Baileys, Kahlua or Tia Maria
6 free range egg yolks
75g caster sugar
Raw sugar, or demarara, to caramelise.
Heat the cream and milk slowly in a saucepan, until scalding. This is pre-boiling point, when you can just see the surface wrinkle when disturbed.
Stir in the coffee and liqueur.
Beat the egg yolks until pale and creamy, then whisk in the egg yolks, adding them gradually. Whisk in caster sugar.
You may choose to strain the liquid through a sieve, but mine was pretty smooth, so I didn’t bother.
Divide the mixture between the ramekins and place into high sided trays. Carefully pour water into the trays, around the ramekins.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until the custard comes away from the edges slightly, but the centres are still wobbly.
Refrigerate for several hours, overnight if convenient.
When ready to serve, sprinkle with sugar and go at it with a blowtorch until caramelised to a rich coffee colour. It’s fun. Just don’t, whatever you do, touch the surface straight after. This may sound like obvious advice, but some of us just don’t think. I managed to give myself an impressive little blister and had to have my finger in a glass of water for many hours.
As I said, absolutely delicious. Well worth sharing with those closest to you.