Spring brings to mind two plants for me: asparagus and rhubarb. I will be honest, I can take or leave asparagus. It is a little bitter, can quickly become over cooked, and we struggle to get the kids to eat it. Rhubarb, on the other hand, ought to be enshrined as the national treasure that it is. The traditional rhubarb plant, the one that grew behind so many farm houses, is virtually indestructible. I tell you, in all seriousness, that only an act of God or Atrazine could kill it. There is no such thing as ‘moving’ one of these plants – you are merely splitting it and doubling your crop. Today’s varieties stay much finer, tend to be redder in colour, and are sweeter. And, you can kill them if you try. While still resilient, they have been known to struggle some in dry weather. The original rhubarb really shouldn’t be picked or eaten after about June, depending on how hot the season is. The new stuff can be pretty much picked all summer. I currently have four different varieties of the ‘new’ rhubarb started on the side of our house. The side next to the ‘was going to be a house but the builder left town with somebody’s money’ lot is falling in, but will still grow rhubarb. There are Valentine, Strawberry, German Wine, and Canada Red growing there now, holding on for dear life.
Foodland Ontario helps to promote produce grown here in Ontario. They regularly put out brochures that show case the best the province has to offer that season. This year, the spring brochure includes a recipe for rhubarb creme brulee. Hello, come to Mama. You had me at Rhubarb. And then Crème Brulee. Unlike some of the other versions of crème brulee I have made, the directions and measurements for this one are spot on.
One important point when making crème brulee is to be sure to blot any moisture off of the top of the custard before adding the sugar. The excess moisture will really interfere with the ‘brulee-ing’ process. The original recipe calls for brown sugar to be sprinkled on top. I find white sugar actually works better. Feel free to experiment. Oh, and pick up those little flyers in the produce department. You never know what you are going to find.
Rhubarb Crème Brulee #recipe
- 2 cups chopped rhubarb , approx. 1" pieces
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 5 egg yolks
- 2 whole eggs
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup white or brown sugar (for sprinkling)
Combine rhubarb, white sugar, brown sugar, and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes or until thickened
Divide mixture evenly between 6-6 oz ramekins
For the custard,heat cream to almost a simmer.
In a separate bowl, mix egg, egg yolks, and white sugar until just blended.
While continuously stirring, slowly pour the warmed cream into the egg mixture.
Stir in vanilla
Pour through sieve
Pour over prepared rhubarb ramekins.
Place ramekins in a baking dish large enough that water will circulate all the way around them and they do not touch.
Place the baking dish into a pre-heated 300 F oven. Pour hot water around the ramekins until it comes at least half way up the sides of the dishes.
Bake for 1 hour until set (firm but still slightly jiggly in the middle)
Remove from water, allow to cool. Individually wrap in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge.
To serve, sprinkle each wit 2 tsp of sugar. Broil in oven or using kitchen torch.