Califonia Bountiful

Lavender and chocolate crème brûlée

Jerre and Lesa Hertel
The Lavender Farm in Lincoln, Placer County

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1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup white sugar (or lavender-infused sugar, for more lavender flavor)
1 pinch salt
1 tsp. lavender buds (fresh or dried, tied in a bouquet garni or cheesecloth bag)
5 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 tbsp. lavender-infused sugar


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place 2 tbsp. of the chocolate chips into each of 4 (6-oz.) ramekins. Place in the microwave and heat on full power, stirring every 20 to 30 seconds. Continue heating until chocolate has melted. Spread to cover 3/4 of the sides and bottom of each ramekin. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, whisk together cream, 1/4 cup sugar and salt. Set over medium heat, add lavender bouquet and warm until steam rises. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks and vanilla. When cream is hot, ladle a bit into egg yolks while whisking quickly. Ladle in about 1/2 cup more to bring yolks up to a higher temperature without scrambling them. Remove lavender bouquet. Whisk yolk mixture into the rest of the cream. Let rest for 3 to 4 minutes. Ladle into chocolate-lined ramekins.

Place a towel in the bottom of a baking dish and place the filled ramekins on top of the towel. Place in the oven and pour boiling water carefully into the baking dish until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover baking dish loosely with aluminum foil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, just until custard is set. Remove ramekins from dish and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

Before serving, sprinkle 1 tbsp. lavender-infused sugar over the top of each crème brûlée. Use a kitchen torch or the oven's broiler to caramelize the sugar. Be careful not burn the topping. (No more than 2 to 3 minutes in the broiler.) Serve immediately.

Note: You can purchase culinary grade lavender products at specialty stores or from California lavender growers, such as The Lavender Farm in Lincoln.

Serves 4

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