Lavender crème brûlée, prepared by Setzu Zeender, pastry chef at the Sweet Life Café in Oak Bluffs.
Randi Baird

As with the rest of the menu at the Sweet Life Café in Oak Bluffs, the dessert offerings change from time to time, but this rich, lavender-scented custard with a bronzed, crackly top is a mainstay.

Serves 6

  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dried or fresh lavender
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, plus 6 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup for the brûlée topping
  • Hot water (approximately 2 quarts)

1. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the cream and lavender until boiling. Remove from heat.

2. In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk the vanilla, eggs, yolks, and 2/3 cup sugar. Slowly add the cream and lavender to the sugar mixture to temper, so that it warms it up gently (if the hot liquid is added all at once, the eggs will start to cook too much). Let steep for at least an hour at room temperature to absorb the lavender flavor. Strain to remove the lavender and pour the custard into six 6-ounce ramekins.

3. Preheat oven to 200 degrees (use convection oven if possible). Place the ramekins in a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the outside of the ramekins. Bake until the custard is just set but still trembling in the center and the temperature reads 170 to 175 on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan, cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

4. Remove the ramekins from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving time. (Dab custard gently with paper towel if any moisture beads formed during chilling.) Evenly sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar atop the 6 custards. Use a kitchen blowtorch to caramelize the sugar to form a deep-brown crisp crust on top. If you don’t have a blowtorch handy, preheat oven to broil with a rack positioned just below the broiler. Place ramekins on a baking sheet under broiler until sugar melts, about 2 minutes. Keep oven door open to avoid overheating the custard, and watch carefully so as not to burn. Allow the crème brûlée to sit for a few minutes before serving.

This recipe was originally published with the article, The Coop Scoop.