I think 2 years is long enough to wait for another iteration of my awesome vegan Vanilla Crème Brûlée, don’t you? If you haven’t seen that post or read the story behind the recipe, I highly recommend it. It’s filled with stress, tight deadlines, high expectations and success! This was mostly due to my friend, Chef Olivia Hernandez, who at the time was the head chef at El Cid in Silverlake, CA.
Now, I’ve finally made a different flavor of this tasty dessert, and yet again it’s Olivia’s fault. We had been talking about this recipe a couple of weeks ago and she had been raving about it to some vegan friends of hers in Austin, TX. (where she’s located now). Then she challenged me to do a cardamom-flavored vegan Crème Brûlée, and of course I said, Yes!
But, I couldn’t just add some cardamom and call it a day; that wouldn’t be right. I changed up the ingredients a bit, tested out a new starch, added some other flavors and decided a complimentary garnish was in order. It’s citrus season, and coming up on Valentine’s Day, so blood oranges seemed like the perfect companion to this dessert. Not only did I candy them, turning them into sticky, delectable, orange gummies; I also used their zest in the Crème for a subtle citrus undertone.
So, you have a couple of textures within this Cardamom Crème Brûlée: smooth and thick custard-y Crème, the quintessential crunchy sugar brûlée, and the soft but chewy candied blood orange slice. If that doesn’t get you drooling, you may need to get your pulse checked, or go look at some chocolate desserts.
You’re probably thinking, “I don’t have the time to put in the effort for this dessert”. You couldn’t be more wrong. Aside from the setting time, you spend 5 minutes prepping and 25 minutes cooking, most of that being pretty idle. Many people have had success with the first recipe that I created, and this one is just as easy.
One thing that I really tried to showcase with the step-by-step photos that tripped a couple of people up last time, was how thick you need the crème to be when it is heated in the pan. You want it to be gravy-like, but very smooth; dip a spoon into it and it should coat it with a thick layer then slowly drip off. Hopefully that helps!
This dessert is great for Valentine’s day, because you can make it the night before and have it in the refrigerator overnight, then take the Cardamom Crème Brûlée out when you’re ready to serve them. Sprinkle fine sugar over the top and get to torchin’ with your loved one, friend or yo’ fine self.
Cardamom Crème Brûlée with Candied Blood Orange
- 2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1/3 cup water
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoon tapioca starch
- 1 1/2 tablespoon organic cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest blood
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast
- Pinch of salt or of black Indian salt kala namak
- Optional: pinch of turmeric for color
Candied Blood Oranges
- 4- 1/8 slices " thick of blood orange
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 8 leaves mint
- Preheat oven to 325ºF.
- Place all ingredients into a blender and puree for at least 30 seconds, making sure there are no powdery chunks in the liquid.
- Pour the mixture into a small sauce pan, over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer.
- Whisk the mixture continually until it thickens, without becoming chunky. Test this by seeing if a thick layer will stick to a spoon or finger, and also if it looks like a smooth gravy (refer to pictures). It is crucial that it reaches a hot enough temperature or else it will not set properly.
- Get a casserole dish ready, along with either 4-2 oz. ramekins or 2-4 oz. ramekins. Place the ramekins in the casserole dish and fill it with water until it is half-way up the ramekins.
- Carefully pour the crème mixture into each ramekin, and transfer the dish to the oven, making sure not to splash the water.
- Bake for 25 for 4 small ramekins and 35 minutes for 2 bigger ramekins.
- When I baked mine, I saw them jiggle just a little bit; and before taking them out would bump the casserole dish to see how much they jiggled. There will be a tiny jiggle.
- Once the ramekins are cool enough to touch, place them on a cooling rack and into the fridge for 1-2 hours (definitely 2 hours for larger ramekins).
- When you want to serve them, sprinkle roughly 1-2 tsp. (depending on how wide your dish is) of sugar on top of the crème. Using a culinary torch or broiler, melt the sugar until it reaches a light brown/orange color, or more if you like it burnt.
- If you're having a hard time melting the sugar, I suggest putting it into a dry blender and making it finer, so that it melts more easily. Once it's caramelized, garnish (following the instructions below).
Candied Blood Oranges
- While the crème is baking in the oven, place the slices of orange in the bottom of a saute pan, sprinkle them with sugar and pour the water over them. Bring the mixture to a boil then adjust heat to medium-low for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture is syrup-y and bubbling, without much liquid.
- During that time you will occasionally flip the slices or swish the mixture about by moving the pan. Once the liquid is nearly gone, carefully take the slices out and place them on wax paper on a cooling rack. You can refrigerate them until you are ready to serve the Crème Brûlée.
- To make the garnish, cut through half of the orange slice, going from the middle out. Take one outside and twist it into itself, creating a cone. Set it on the Crème Brûlée, loose end down and place a mint leaf on either side of it to create a flower shape. Serve!