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In Season: Shortbread creme brulee with rhubarb compote

This week, I've been mostly thinking about spring. There's not been a whiff of it around here, but it's definitely getting lighter in the mornings which I suppose is something.

I've just come up with a brand new dessert for the restaurant which feels spring-like in its freshness, and we'll be launching it this week.

Firstly, I drew a picture of the dish yesterday, and then today I had a chat with my sous chef about it. Tomorrow she'll be road testing it, and we'll launch it on Friday night for guests. It's a pretty quick turnaround here.

So what we're rustling up is this - a honey, shortbread and cornflake crème brûlée with a rhubarb compote and cornflake crisps.

My favourite part of this dish is the bit where we add bee pollen. Available from health food shops, the pollen comes in tiny golden nuggets that the bees carry on their little paws when they return to the hive after feasting on flowers.

Bee pollen has more amino acids than any vegetable - 17 to be specific, and 11 that we don't even know what to do with yet.

If you can't get your hands on bee pollen, then regular honey will do, but when you add it to the top of the custard, put a bit of yoghurt underneath to ensure it melts properly.

I love the array of colour on show here - the yolky yellow of the brulee, the pink rhubarb and orange cornflake crisps.

Spring's coming...

 

Recipe serves four

For the crème brûlée

8 egg yolks

1 pint single cream

4 oz sugar

Fresh vanilla pod, cardamom

Crushed shortbread

1 To make the custard, cream together the egg yolks and the sugar. Add the vanilla pod and cardamom and warm the mixture slightly on the hob, then set aside to rest.

2 Use whatever dishes you have to hand - brown ramekins, or even a big flan dish, and make a layer of crushed shortbread on the bottom. Spoon custard on top then sprinkle with bee pollen.

3 Put the dishes in a ban maree to cook in the oven, with a tea towel lining the bottom of the ban maree to absorb some heat.

4 Bake for 40 mins at 180c, then rest for 15-20 mins.

5 The fun bit - get your blowtorch (I wouldn't advise trying to grill the tops to harden, as it'll curdle the egg) and torch the top of the brûlée until golden brown

For the compote

Cottage cheese

Rhubarb

Cornflakes, or sugar puffs if you prefer

Sugar (enough to take away sharpness from rhubarb)

Vanilla pod

Milk

 

1 In a bowl, add the rhubarb, vanilla, sugar and any spices you like and mash with a potato masher. If it's not sweet enough, add more sugar.

2 Crush the cornflakes, and add them to the milk. Bring the milk to the boil, then pass it to separate the cornflakes.

3 Roast the soggy cornflakes dusted with icing sugar on a tray in the oven at 180c for 1 hour.

3 Layer a shotglass with cottage cheese at the bottom, then the rhubarb compote, and finally spoon the warm milk over the top.

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