I have the most exciting news for you, my beer and food loving friend!
Over the next few months, my good friend and mentor Chef Dan Higgins and I will be collaBREWating on some absolutely amazing recipes. Basically, he’ll teach, we’ll cook, and I’ll write and pair beers with Dan’s amazing dishes. This ridiculously good Irish Whiskey crème brûlée is the official beginning of the series and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
You might remember Dan from the mind blowing beer and food pairing dinner we did last year. It was seriously one of the best meals of my life. Though in all seriousness this Irish Whiskey Crème Brûlée may win most delicious dessert.
I mean, just look at that amazingness.
But first! Let’s learn a little about our chef:
LB: What made you want to cook for a living?
DH: All animals eat as a matter of sustenance; however, humans have the capacity to eat as a matter of taste. I decided to cook professionally when taste began to matter more to me than just the maintenance of life.
LB: Give us some of your background info – what restaurants have you worked at and what do you love about them?
DH: I have worked at several local and notable establishments including Hugo, Jean-Robert’s Table, and Dutch’s Larder. I am currently the Sous Chef at the Straits of Malacca Malaysian restaurant in Mason, OH. I have a preference for working in fine dining. Although there is great variation in flavors across the various genres of fine dining cuisine, techniques are similar. More importantly, there is a high level of respect for ingredients, and love for preparation.
LB: What’s your favorite meal to prepare?
DH: Boef a la bourguignonne. It’s my favorite meal for several reasons; 1. It’s French peasant food, i.e. uncomplicated and absolutely delicious; 2. It’s something best enjoyed with other people – easy to prepare and can serve a dozen people. It was also the first food I prepared. I learned what it was, shopped for all of the ingredients (procurement in itself is enjoyable), and made it. Now I make it exactly the way I like it – and frequently. That will have to be a collabrewation dinner, for sure.
In the meantime, this Irish Whiskey Crème Brûlée will leave you breathless it is that good. You get a great flavor of vanilla and a nice hint of whiskey, without being overpowered by it. The heavenly crunchy crust combined with the rich custard is out of this world. I was quite surprised at how easy this dessert was to make – This is one impressive dessert I will make over and over again.
It also gives you an excuse to buy a brûlée torch.
Fire! An epic way to start what is sure to be a very fun and educational series.
Irish Whiskey Crème Brûlée
- 3.5 c. heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean
- 8 egg yolks
- 1/2 c. sugar (plus more later for the crust)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 375 mL whiskey such as Jameson
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
1. Boil 4 quarts of water and reserve for water bath
2. Reduce 375 mL of whiskey over low heat to approximately 3-5 Tbls. and reserve
4. Whisk together yolks, sugar, and salt until pale yellow; add warm cream to mixture while whisking. [Note: if cream is hot allow to steep longer or cool with a water bath; if cream is cold, heat until warm]
5. Add whiskey reduction while stirring and strain custard through a fine mesh sieve
6. Add 4-5 oz. custard to approximately 9 ramekins
7. Place ramekins in deep baking dishes and add reserved hot water until about halfway up the sides of ramekins
8. Place in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until custard has set; it is set when the custard is slightly darker on top and jiggles uniformly when the ramekin is tapped.
If making ahead of time, let the ramekins cool completely then wrap in Saran Wrap. These will keep in the fridge for up to five days. When ready to serve, top with an even dusting, about 1 tsp, of white table sugar on top of your custard.
Here’s where it gets fun: Light that puppy up with a brûlée torch until the sugar caramelizes evenly looking brown and delightful. Serve immediately.
I love pairing this rich custardy dessert with a nice dry Irish stout. There is a great contrast between the roasty malt and dry finish of the beer which complements the sweet, creamy dessert so well. We just made our own homebrewed dry Irish stout we call “Emerald” – it turned out lovely and works wonders with the crème brûlée. The hints of vanilla and creamy texture from the flaked barley echo the luscious custard in the crème brûlée.
A perfect match, just like this collaBREWation.