Here’s a great recipe that gives a hint of sophistication (teaphistication?) to a wonderful comfort food, crème brûlée, while adding the unmistakable taste of Earl Grey.
Earl Grey Brûlée
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup + 12 tsp demerera (“in the raw”) sugar
6 tsp earl grey reserve
small pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
First, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Combine 1 cup of cream, 1/3 cup of sugar, salt, and tea leaves in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and let steep for 15 minutes.
Place a tea towel or Silpat in the bottom of a large baking dish or roasting pan and arrange 4 ramekins on the towel. Make sure that the ramekins do not touch each other and are at least 1/2″ from the sides of the pan. Bring a kettle of water to boil.
After the tea has steeped, stir in the remaining cup of cream to cool the mixture slightly. In a separate bowl, whisk the vanilla extract and yolks until broken and combined. Whisk about 1/4 cup of the cream mixture into the yolks until combined and repeat, continuing to add 1/4 cup of cream until all of the mixture is combined.
Strain everything through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the tea leaves in the strainer. Divide the now-strained mixture among the ramekins.
Carefully place the baking dish with the ramekins in the oven rack. Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the baking dish, making sure not to splash any water into the ramekins, until the water reaches two thirds of the way up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for approx 20-25 minutes, until the centers of the custards are just barely set, or if you have a thermometer, when the centers reach 170-175 degrees F. If you’re using the traditional ramekin, it may take 5-10 minutes longer because they’re deeper. Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or up to 4 days.
When ready, uncover the ramekins and sprinkle 2-3 tsps of sugar evenly across the top of each custard. The more sugar you add, the thicker the crust. Torch the sugar using slow, sweeping motions until caramelized. Refrigerate the ramekins, uncovered, to rechill, for 30 minutes, but not much longer or your crust won’t stay crackly.