Sunday, July 12, 2009

Let Them Eat Cupcakes

Cambridge’s Bastille Day celebration proved to have better food than the typical street festival. At this event - hot dogs, cotton candy and fried dough were replaced with Crème Brûlée, Macaroons, Paninis and pastries - served up by local french bistros and cafés. Although Holyoke Street would have by no means passed for the Champs-Élysées, its lively music and great food visibly made many local Parisans proud.
Sweet – Improper Bostonian’s 2009 winner of the Boston’s Best Cupcakes sold creamy Madagascar Vanilla Bean and Dark Chocolate cupcakes topped with butter cream frosting and decorated on-theme with red, white and blue sprinkles. Chez Henri took street food to the next level, with their version of vanilla bean Crème Brûlée - with sugar crusts being burnt to order. The dessert was the perfect combination of rich and creamy, with a thin and crunchy crust.

French or not - Bastille Day (July 14) is the perfect excuse to make your own Crème Brûlée. I am posting a copy of my favorite recipe to make at home. This recipe replaces the typical vanilla bean with fresh ginger, and is paired with a warm fruit compote. Bon appetit!!

Alfred Portale’s Ginger Crème Brûlée with Warm Plum and Raspberry Compote

2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
4 6-ounce ramekins

Position a rack in the center of the over and preheat to 325 F. Place the ramekins in a large baking pan. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream and ginger to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar. Gradually whisk in the cream. Strain through a wire sieve into a bowl, and discard the ginger. Place the baking dish with the ramekins in the oven, and carefully ladle or pour the mixture into the ramekins. Using a teaspoon, skim off any foam on the surface of the custards.

Pour enough hot water into the baking pan to come ½ inch up the side of the ramekins. Bake until the custard sets firm (the centers will be slightly loose), 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from the water bath and cool completely. Cover each Ramekin with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Warm Plum and Raspberry Compote

2 tablespoons butter
3 ripe dark-skinned black plums, pitted and cut into sixths
2-3 tablespoons sugar, depending on the sweetness of the plums
¼ cup fresh orange juice
½ pint fresh raspberries

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat. Add the plums and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the plums begin to release their juices, 3-4 minutes. Add the orange juice and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the orange juice is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and fold in the raspberries.

To serve:

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Position a broiler rack about 6 inches from the source of heat and preheat the broiler. Rub the brown sugar through a wire sieve to cover each custard with a dusting of sugar. Put the ramekins on a baking sheet and broil, watching carefully to avoid scorching, until the brown sugar has caramelized, 1-2 minutes. On a large plate, place a Crème Brûlée and a small dish of the compote.


  1. hi, i just found your blog and i loved it very uch, its fresh and delicious and i found it very mediterranean, being a spanish living in london makes me appreciate food much more, and i always try to eat mediterranean, so, please visit mine if you have the time:



  2. I am craving creme brulee after seeing that picture. (by the way, pictures are fantastic!). I wish I was close enough to check out this festival-- looks like my kind of place!
    Ananta Watches

  3. This creme brulee sounds wonderful!!!

  4. I love creme brulee and this one looks really delightful! I can't wait to try it!

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