Storified by Arya McLean· Fri, Apr 12 2013 17:25:45
A classic French dessert, Crème Brulee can be made even more interesting with the addition of ginger and basil, two aromatic and therapeutic spices that provide a striking contrast to the creamy sweetness. Considered a fancy treat, crème brulee is easy to make and can impress even the snottiest of guests if done the right way. While it is relatively easy to prepare, it is also an easy dish to ruin because it requires precision in cooking. Before attempting to make this yummy dessert, make sure you grasp the basic principles.
Some people think it’s a sacrilege to add exotic spices to an otherwise simple dish but Chef Mario d’Orio of Le Mahatma shows us how it can be done while respecting the original essence of the French gourmet cooking recipe. Once you get the basics down, you can add almost any spice you wish and experiment for yourself. Other popular additions include coffee, chocolate, green tea, liqueur, lemon, pistachio, orange zest and other fruits.
Translated to English, crème brulee means “burnt cream.” It starts with a rich, creamy and silky custard base topped with a layer of hardened caramel. The caramel consists of brown sugar slightly burnt using a blowtorch, and hence the name. In Spanish its counterpart is crema catalana, and is also known as Trinity cream. It is traditionally flavored with vanilla, served cold and torched just before it is served. Part of the thrill and experience of crème brulee is seeing the dessert torched before it is eaten.
A few bites are enough to satisfy the palette as it is a very rich dessert. Some serve it in small bowls but in this recipe, a slightly wider dish is used to highlight the basil and ginger garnish. You will find this recipe invigorating and refreshing, and at the same time luxurious and filling.