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Navel orange crème brûlée

This rich, creamy dessert—which in French means "burnt cream" because of its caramelized finish—takes on a California personality with the addition of orange zest.

Chef Brian Collins
Ember, Arroyo Grande

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1 quart heavy whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
Zest of 3 navel oranges
Pinch of salt
8 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar, plus additional for topping


Combine cream, vanilla bean, orange zest and salt in a thick-bottomed, stainless steel pot and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and let steep for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar. Slowly add steeped cream to egg mixture a little at a time, whisking continuously. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve.

Arrange 6 to 8 (6-oz.) ramekins in a large roasting pan or other shallow, heavy pan. Pour custard into ramekins. Place pan in oven and fill with hot water two-thirds up the sides of the ramekins. Cover pan with a sheet pan to create an enclosed steam water bath for the crème brûlée to bake in. Bake for 1 hour or until custard is set but still jiggling in the center when pan is slightly shaken.

Remove ramekins from water bath and refrigerate, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight. Sprinkle custard with just enough sugar to cover the top. Holding a kitchen torch 4 to 6 inches from the custard, move the flame continuously in a circular motion until sugar is melted and light golden brown. Let cool a few minutes until sugar hardens.

Serves 6 to 8

Photo: © 2018 Kendra Aronson

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