Separating eggs is tedious, especially if it’s the whites you’re after for a meringue, because any foreign particles in the whites will prevent them from whipping up in volume properly. The correct way to do this is to crack the egg in the middle, and pour the yolk gently back and forth between the two halves of the eggshells until all the whites have fallen into the bowl below. I use 3 bowls for this practice – one for the new egg white,
one to pour all the yolks into, and a third to pour the clean egg whites into, because if a yolk broke over a bowl of whites they would all have to be tossed, and you’d have to start over again. Although most recipes call for
the eggs at room temperature, it is easier to separate them cold since the yolks are firmer, then allow the egg whites to come to room temperature before whipping into shape.
Some people like to invest in egg separators, little gadgets with holes in the bottom. The premise being you crack the egg in it, and the yolks are held in the top part of the instrument while the whites seep down through
the holes. A bit too fiddly for me (it slows me down too much), and one more gadget to clutter up my already over-flowing cupboards. I get so many requests for my light, airy angel food cupcakes, and floating islands in the summer that my new trick is just to buy the cartons of egg whites you find in grocery stores today – they
work great, and are totally hassle free. However, when it’s the egg yolk I’m after for recipes such as creme Anglaise, homemade ice cream, or my lavender creme brûlée…I like to use my God given #1 favorite kitchen tool – my clean hands. I crack the egg, holding the smaller end up right, so the yolk is caught, and most
of the egg white falls over the sides. Then I flip the yolk into my other hand with my fingers spread slightly apart for the rest of the whites to fall away. Okay maybe it’s not the ideal method of choice for OCD clean freaks, or the squeamish, but it is fast and effective! That is exactly how I separated the eggs for a recent
dinner party for a gentleman who “bought me” in a charity auction for the Red Cross. The lavender creme brûlée was the hit of the party according to this remark he left on my Facebook page, “ Thank you for gracing us with your beautiful presence and amazing talent. Last nights dining experience was an incredible delight! By the way, that creme brulee was orgasmic…” So, I thought I would share the recipe with all of you too!
Lavender creme brûlée
The crispy sugar exterior contrasts so perfectly with the silky smooth creamy filling with a slightly fragrant floral note from the lavender of this classic dessert. It does require a little technique, but don’t let that put you off. It’s really not that difficult once you get the hang of it, and you’ll be handsomely rewarded by the “mmm’s” and smiles of your dinner guests. I like to make the filling the day before, which allows me to add the turbinado sugar after everyone finishes their entree, and quickly finish it off under the broiler, so I get to relax and enjoy the party too!
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon lavender extract (substitute vanilla if you can’t find lavender)
6 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup turbinado (raw) sugar
1). Bring the milk and the cream to a slow boil, stirring frequently (and keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over) over medium-low heat. Stir in the lavender extract, and let it steep for 1 hour.
2). Preheat oven to 325° F. Prepare a water bath – fill a roasting pan full enough to come halfway up the individual casserole or brûlée baking dishes. Leave water in pan heating up along with the oven, but keep brûlée baking dishes ready on the countertop.
3). Strain the cream lavender cream mixture into a clean saucepan, and gently bring to boil again as in step one.
4). Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and sugar until just incorporated.
5). Strain the reheated lavender cream mixture into a 4 cup measuring cup. Holding the measuring cup in your left hand (if you are right handed) and the whisk in your right hand, very slowly pour a little hot cream mixture into the egg yolks as you whisk vigorously at the same time. Take your time doing this so the heat of the yolks is brought up to the temperature of the cream gradually, this is called tempering, or the eggs will scramble.
6). Pour the mixture equally into the 4 brûlée baking dishes. Carefully place the baking dishes into the water bath (water should come halfway up the side of the dish) and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the custard is solid, but still jiggles a little in the center, checking it every 5 minutes after the first 20 minutes. Remove from water, cool, and refrigerate, covered for at least 2-3 hours or until ready to serve.
7). Preheat the broiler (if you do not have a torch). Sprinkle the raw sugar evenly over the tops of the cold creme brûlées, and place them on a sheet pan for durability. Place under the hot broiler, about 2-3 inches from the element, until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes, being careful to keep an eye on them because they can go from golden brown to burnt rapidly. Remove and let cool 5 minutes so the melted sugar hardens before serving.