The first signs of spring are here already. Buds are popping up on trees, there are days when I only have to wear one jacket, and some days are partially sunny. Compared to the rest of North America, Vancouver has had (as it always does) a mild winter. No snowpocalypse, no snowmaggedon, no Polar Vortex. Some rain, a couple days of half an inch of snow, and some more rain.
I like Vancouver winters. I don't mind the rain. It doesn't get very cold, just kinda damp. Not so bad.
I lived in Montreal for eight months while I was in my first year of university. That winter was terrible. I don't care if it was sunny most of the time, if it's -20 Celsius and I'm stepping foot outside, it's not good. I can't believe people actually live there. Permanently. Oh, and don't forget the snow.
I'm going to admit it, I don't really like summer. I don't like sweating. I don't like having my legs or back stick to a leather car seat or chair. I don't like having my hair get damp from sheer sweating. I don't like getting sunburned - no matter how much/often I apply sunscreen, I will get sunburned at least once in the summer.
Sure, I like the ability to go out and do stuff in nature without getting drenched, but if I'm being honest, I don't have much time for that. I work and on my days off, I have to do laundry, groceries, clean the apartment, bake something, photograph it, write up a post, and do whatever other errands I need to do. It's tough to find the time to actually go and enjoy the outdoors.
So, despite the impending spring weather, I made this middle-of-winter comfort dessert. This is what I want to eat when I'm cuddled up in my blanket and it's cold outside. Warm spices and a creamy custard topped off with a crunchy layer of caramel. What else could you want after coming in from the cold?
For those of you who may still be trapped in the Polar Vortex (if that's still a thing), you're probably cursing me for wishing winter would stick around for a while longer. But if you make yourself this on a cold day, you might start to agree with me.
Maple Cinnamon Creme Brûlée
350 g heavy cream
150 g whole milk
2 cinnamon sticks
50 g brown sugar
25 g maple sugar
15 g maple syrup
1 g salt
100 g egg yolks
Bring the cream, milk, and cinnamon sticks to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 300 F.
Combine your sugars, salt, and yolks in a medium bowl and whisk until slightly paler in colour.
Return the cream mixture back to the heat and add the maple syrup. Bring back to a boil and slowly temper the cream into the yolks by whisking a small ladleful of cream into the yolks. Slowly add the rest of the cream, whisking vigourously. Take out the cinnamon sticks and discard.
Fill your kettle or a pot with water and bring to a boil.
Place 4 to 5 ramekins in a pan with tall sides, such as a brownie pan or roasting pan. Pour the creme brûlée mixture into each ramekin, filling it up about 3/4 of the way. Skim off any foam and discard.
Pour the boiling water in the pan so that the water reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size and depth of your ramekins. The custard is set when it jiggles as one. Be careful not to overcook your custards or they will curdle.
Remove from the oven, remove from the water bath, and let cool completely. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
To serve, sprinkle an even layer of sugar over the tops of the custards. Using a hand torch, caramelize the sugar in an even layer. Serve immediately.