Prep 48 hrs
Cook 30 mins
Lavender dominates the underlying medley of flavors, but in this version with herbs de provence provide a light, sweet and savory character that is very satisfying on an autumn evening. It is best to let the custard set overnight to "marry the flavors" and then cool down again before serving, so ideally you should plan on making this the day before serving then doing the sugar brulee and allowing the custard to set at room temperature well before serving for ideal flavor.
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1⁄4 cup sugar
- 1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon herbes de provence (or equal parts lavender flowers, thyme, rosemary and fennel seeds)
- Combine the sugar, vanilla and egg yolks, mixing well. Set aside.
- Place the cream and the herbes in a large saucepan and heat slowly just to the boiling point. Strain the herbes with a fine sieve.
- Pour the cream into the eggs and sugar mixture in a slow and steady stream, whisking constantly.
- Pour 1/2 cup of the mixture into each ramekin.
- Ideally, allow to sit overnight before baking.
- Preheat the oven to 375 and prepare a water bath in a pan so that the water comes halfway up the (outer) sides of the ramekins.
- Bake until the custard is set, about 40 minutes. It's OK if the centers "roll" a bit, as long as the sides are set: the custards will set up as they cool.
- Allow to cool and refrigerate at least two hours. The longer the better. Putting a round of plastic wrap on the custards will prevent a film from forming.
- At least an hour before serving, sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar onto each custard, thinly and evenly.
- Melt the sugar with a flame until golden brown, either with a kitchen torch or under the broiler, about an inch from the flame for 30 seconds.
- Cool to room temperature before serving.
- If you don't have a kitchen torch and will be browning the sugar under the broiler, try to get the custard as close as possible to the top of the ramekins. The sugar will brown better and more evenly, and you'll have a better presentation.