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Chef Joey loves Old World desserts!


Text, photos and recipe by Chef Joey

As the cold months engulf us, we are constantly looking for comfort foods. Additionally, since it is the New Year, we tend to be calorie-conscious, as well as gluten-conscious, in our efforts to get trim and healthy. So this leads me to an Old World dessert that can be a snack that is easy to make: delicious, gluten-free and loaded with protein.

What is this magical dessert that sounds too good to be true?  It is none other than Crème Brulée!  This delicious concoction traditionally made with vanilla flavoring first started appearing in cookbooks around 1690.  It was translated into English mid 1700’s but kept the name, and by 1800 it was called “Burnt Cream” in England. Other names are Crème Anglaise. In Spain it is called Crema Catalana and is the dessert served once a year on Saint Joseph’s day (March 19). Instead of vanilla, it is flavored with the zest of lemons or oranges.

The origin of this dessert was a culinary student. The legend for the current version comes from an Aberdeen shire country house and was offered by an undergraduate, to the college chef, who turned it down. However, however when the student became a Fellow, he managed to convince the chef to serve it!

I recently reintroduced myself to this dessert, thanks to my new friends Stephanie and Penny who were constantly being served custard, which is cooked on top of the stove vs baking. It is an easy technique and you don’t have to put the sugar on top and burn it. It’s a delicious concoction that takes minutes to prepare and can be made ahead of time and keeps for a couple of days! 

You will need ramekins for individual servings or a glass pie plate will do for family style. 


For the basic recipe you need:

1 quart of cream

6 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

a vanilla bean. 

I’ll list them below again. 

The joy of this recipe is you can substitute the vanilla and add lemon, orange, almond, chocolate, pistachio, coconut – endless combinations!

Turn your oven on to 325, separate the eggs and save the whites for breakfast.

Add a ½ cup sugar to the yolks and whisk until light in color and very fluffy. 

In the meantime, add the seeds from the vanilla bean to the milk/cream in your sauce pan and bring to a boil. 


Let it sit for 15 minutes to cool down, then slowly add it to the eggs whisking constantly.  

Prepare your baking pan by placing the ramekins in the large rectangle pan. Fill the ramekins with the filling …


… then pour HOT water into the holding pan so it comes up just over halfway up the ramekins or pie plate. 

Place in your hot oven and bake for 45 minutes. 

The center should be a little jiggly and yet firm to the touch.  Depending on your oven, adjust the cooking time. 

Remove from the oven, take the ramekins out of the water, place on a cookie sheet and bring to room temp, then refrigerate. 

They are ready to eat like this or dust with the rest of the sugar, just a light coating. Using a blow torch, fire it evenly on the sugar until it melts. 

Alternatively, you can do this under the broiler – just keep a close eye on it!