Monday, September 6, 2010

Brown Sugar - Cardamom Creams

I wanted to create a custardy/creamy dessert with cardamom (my favorite- as semi-demonstrated in a post/one sided discussion on this blog before). However, I don't think I have ever totally made something cardamom without having a base recipe and then taking a riff on it.

Well, the first version wasn't the right texture. It tasted fine, but it was too eggy to be what I wanted. I was looking for something more luxe, and the eggyness just wouldn't cut it for this purpose. See, it even looks "cakey" and eggy, not creamy.

(But if you don't already know this, eggy/custardy dessert things are improved by cooling. The eggy flavor is diminished and things seem to "come together" a little better.)

Looks like I have to study a bit more before going all-out crazy with recipe creation.
I still had to figure this one out. You (I) just can't let something like this go... it must be done.
Think, think, think.

I don't know, to me cardamom is such a comforting and beautiful (but at the same time)... exotic flavor, but I don't know that I had ever had it in something creamy. Baked goods, drinks, sauces maybe... but not custard.

Round 2 was a success! Luckily it only took two tries...

After studying, looking through recipes, comparing differences between, custard, flan, creme brulee, and creme caramel, and knowing the consistency I was looking for, I made my decision.

Another consideration was the techniques being used.
I decided to steep the cardamom (like tea) for the best flavor since I wouldn't be using the actual seeds or pods in the cooked custards.

"Resting" the cream before cooking would help cut down on bubbles and improve the texture.

Something else I came across was the use of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan while looking at a recipe for chocolat pots de creme.

I think this is to help with texture and cut down on bubbles in the finished cremes. I know that some people use a dish towel in the bottom of the pan when cooking their creme brulee in a water bath. I have tried this, however it's a little dangerous for me. I seem to have the idiotic tendency to pick up extremely hot things. I've taken things off a hot grill with one protected hand and then turned around to pick it up with my other hand. Brilliant.

Oh! A towel in boiling water? Let me take care of it, I can handle it!

Well, paper is a little less dangerous as it doesn't hold heat.

Anyway, I'm very glad it all worked out this time. I don't know if I would ever change anything now since I know it works... and if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

But no one is consistently perfect in the kitchen. Sometimes things are raw in the middle and burnt on the outside. Sometimes there's a certain little thing called "subjectivity" you would have to deal with in the tastes of the people who are eating- something you really can't fix.
It's ok though.

For serving, they're very nice presented with chopped pistachios on top- it enhances the dessert flavor and color-wise!

Brown Sugar-Cardamom Creams
makes 8, 4-6 oz. servings

2 c heavy whipping cream
1 c milk
1/2 c brown sugar, packed
7 cardamom pods, crushed with the side of a knife
1 T granulated sugar
1 large egg
4 large egg yolks
1/8 t salt

Place cream, milk, cardamom pods and seeds, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat on low, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a simmer. Do not boil. As soon as the mixture comes to a simmer, turn off the heat, cover, and let steep 20 minutes. Remove the lid and let it cool in the pan another 10 minutes. Meanwhile gently whisk the eggs with the 1 T granulated sugar, just to break up the eggs and incorporate the sugar.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place a tea kettle or a pot of water on to boil.
(Optional: line your roasting pan with a piece of parchment paper you have cut holes in.)
Slowly pour a little of the warm cream into the eggs and whisk to combine. Add half of the remaining cream, whisk, and repeat with the rest of the cream until it is all combined. Do not over whisk. Let the mixture sit 15 minutes, strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, and ladle into 8, 6 oz. ramekins or custard dishes.
Place the ramekins in a roasting pan (with deeper sides than those of the ramekins) and pour the hot water into the roasting pan so that it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Do not splash water into the ramekins. Cover the roasting pan with foil and carefully place the pan into the oven. Bake about 25 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the pan to a rack (they will be "jiggly") and let cool at least an hour. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.
Serve with chopped pistachios and fresh fruit if desired.


  1. Very delicate flavor and SOOOO good!
    I am a creme brulee and custard fan.

  2. the pistachios are so pretty on the top!

  3. I want to try this! Maybe I can make Patrick do it with me in a week or two...

  4. Oh YUM! I love, love, love, love, love LOVE creme brulee and would most likely love this too! Thank you!

  5. WE tried this recipe and found it very very delicately flavored----Delicious!

  6. Thanks for showing us the incorrect picture----the "flop" so to say.It serves as just another help to good baking!