Today the recipe for the French Fridays with Dorie group is Cheesy Crème Brûlée, a savory version of a French classic sweet dessert - little pots of deliciously creamy cheesy custards topped with fabulous broiled and melted cheese.
Traditionally, Crème Brûlée is a classic bistro dish of chilled creamy custard under a layer of crackling burnt sugar. It is an an important dessert for pastry chefs to master. Dorie´s version, however, has a somewhat different cooking method and the ingredients are savory rather than sweet.
Dorie´s recipe calls for a total of five ounces (140 grams) of cheese, a combination of Parmigiano Reggiano (a hard, granular cheese, cooked but not pressed, named after the producing areas near Parma, Italy) and Comté (a French cheese made from unpasteurized cow's milk in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France), fresh heavy cream (I used 35%), whole milk, and three large egg yolks, plus salt and freshly ground nutmeg and pepper. The Comté cheese is often referred to as the French equivalent of the Swiss Gruyère cheese and it can be found at every good cheese store around here – I always appreciate an excuse to go to my favorite cheese store and marvel at the display while I am waiting to get served – the promise of a delicious Cheesy Crème Brûlée was indeed a fabulous reason to stand in line at the cheese store.
For the baking of these cheesy custards, you will need some shallow ovenproof dishes or brûlée dishes or large/wide ramekins. And unless you use the broiler in your oven, you will also need a mini blowtorch to brown the cheese on top of the custard. After you lined the brulée dishes with very small cubes of cheese (actually I ended up grating the two cheeses instead of cutting minitaure cubes), you prepare the custard, fill it into the dishes, bake the custard for about fifty minutes, let cool, sprinkle grated cheese on top and either brown the tops using a mini blowtorch or run the custard under the broiler.
The two cheeses used in this recipe taste wonderful together - I often use Comté and appreciate the fact that it melts so nicely for example in a cheese fondue. But I think that Swiss Gruyère would also be perfect in this custard as well. Dorie also suggests Cheddar cheese as an alternative, a cheese not often used around here and since I can easily find good French cheeses, I opted for a fabulous Comté AOC Bronze.
Predictably, I had some Comté and Parmigiano Reggiano left over. So I decided to bake a few savory Cheesy Palmiers. Those pastries are thought to have originated in France around the turn of the 20th century. Around here they are known as "Schweineöhrchen" which can be literally translated as "pig's ears".
Palmiers are made from puff pastry, a laminated dough similar to the dough used for Croissants but without the yeast. Since I am still “recovering” from the two day task of baking the Croissants for the TwD group, I decided to use store bought all butter puff pastry. For the Cheesy Palmiers, you simply roll out the pastry and coat it with grated cheeses of choice, a tiny bit of sea salt, and freshly ground pepper and nutmeg to taste. Then the two sides are rolled up together so that they meet in the middle, making a roll that is best frozen for a good thirty minutes and then simply cut into about 1/4" (0.6 centimeter) slices and baked until nicely browned and really crisp.
For a fun presentation, very carefully thread a nice ribbon through the top of the Cheesy Palmiers and place together with the serving spoon on top of some pretty napkins.
Except for the youngest taste tester (who is all but four years of age), this cheesy creamy custard with the slightly browned cheese top was very well received at our house. And they all happily munched away on those Palmiers. The Cheesy Crème Brulée will certainly be a wonderful dish to serve to guests and I really appreciate the fact that the custards can be baked well in advance, kept in the fridge and quickly be ran under the broiler just before serving. A wonderful and elegant recipe to keep in mind for example at Easter time.
To see how delicious the Cheesy Crème Brûlée made by the other members of the French Fridays with Dorie group turned out, please click here.
- Crème brûlée dishes from "TCM" (http://www.tchibo.de)
- Linen napkins (checkered, dolka dot and mushroom design) and checkered ribbon from "Butlers" (http://www.butlers.de) and "Depot" (http://www.depot-online.com)
- Cutlery and spoons with fairy tale designs from "WMF" (http://www.wmf.de)