Blow job: crème brûlée

Few desserts could be more French than crème brûlée – you can find it served throughout France, from a local bistro to a high-class restaurant. For many, it epitomises French food. Yet there is some debate about its origins.

Both the English and the Spanish lay claim to the original concept.

In Spain, a similar dish, known as crema catalana, came to be served during the 17th century to mark Saint Joseph’s Day. This dish is often flavoured with citrus zest or cinnamon.

Meanwhile in England, Trinity College in Cambridge insists the dish – known locally as Trinity Cream – was born there. The college arms were branded onto the sugar topping. This first appeared in a recipe book in 1879.

Nearly 200 years earlier, however, French chef François Massialot published a recipe for crème brûlée in his cookbook Nouveau Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois. That was in 1691.

Whatever the dish’s origins, its combination of creamy custard and crisp caramel topping continues to delight. Some people prefer the custard to be set more than others, but all agree that the topping is crucial. Most grills won’t quite give the desired result.

A blowtorch is essential. Fortunately, we have one at home – which meant the crème brûlée I wolfed down last night was perfect.

This entry was published on Wednesday, 4 June 2014 at 07:26. It’s filed under Food and wine and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
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