Several years ago, my friend Rachel was diagnosed with a gluten allergy. She stopped eating wheat products and since then has been the picture of health.
At the time, her then-10-year-old son, Harry, was so saddened that his mom couldn’t enjoy many of her favorite desserts that he learned to make one to accommodate her new dietary restrictions: crème brulee. Now in high school, Harry still makes his signature crème brulee for his mom, and it has become a standard at pretty much any family gathering.
I was lucky enough to try it, pre-pandemic, at book group, when Rachel offered to bring dessert and then tapped young Harry to deliver for us all.
The other great benefit, in addition to being wheat-free, is that this showstopper of a dessert is kosher for Passover.
Harry’s Crème Brulee
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
½ cup sugar, plus more for topping
Heat your oven to 325 degrees F.
While the oven heats, make the custard. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and salt until just hot — small bubbles will appear around the rim. Remove it from the heat and add the vanilla.
While the cream is heating, beat the eggs and sugar in a bowl until thick, yellow and a bit fluffy. Pour ¼ of the hot cream into the eggs and beat, then pour the egg mixture into the pot containing the rest of the cream, mixing constantly.
When thoroughly blended, divide the mixture equally into four ovenproof ramekins and place them in a baking dish. Fill the baking dish with water; it should come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the centers are just set.
Remove the dish from the oven, cool completely and refrigerate, if desired.
When ready to serve, heat your broiler. Sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar over the top of each ramekin. Place the ramekins on a baking tray under the broiler, about 3 inches from the heat, and allow the sugar to melt and brown, and even blacken a bit. This takes about 5 minutes.
Remove the tray from the oven, allow the burnt sugar to set for a minute or two, and serve.
Note: The broiled ramekins can sit for about an hour or two without compromising their taste and texture, but much longer than that the sugar may begin to soften.