Honey and Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée with Sautéed Apples

If I could make crème brûlée for every post, I'd be pretty happy. I love custards of any kind. Ice cream, pot de crème, crème brûlée, pastry cream, crème anglaise, french buttercream, the list goes on and on. There's something about the creamy smooth feeling of custards that I can't get enough of. I work in a place that makes a damn good crème brûlée, which I have for lunch every so often and I make crème brûlée at home. And last night, I went for dinner with some coworkers and for dessert, I ordered crème brûlée. One of my coworkers asked me why I would order something that I can easily make at home or have at work. And I replied, "Because I like crème brûlée. I want to eat crème brûlée, so I ordered it. And this is a delicious crème brûlée."

This is also a delicious crème brûlée, while not really a traditional one. However, I love the addition of the apples. They still have texture to them, so they're not mushy, which gives a nice contrast to the creamy custard and crunchy caramel. Plus, apples and caramel are perfect together so this dessert was a no-brainer.

This is also a really simple dessert, as long as you have a torch and an immersion blender, two things I recommend having in the kitchen. I use my immersion blender for so many things, especially since it has a food processor attachment. I purée soups, sauces, custards, ganache, and drinks but I can also use it as a food processor to chop things, blend things. You can get them pretty cheap online and at kitchen stores. Once you have one, you'll wonder why you didn't get one sooner! 

The torch is more of a specific use tool, but you can't really substitute anything for a torch. If my butter is too cold but I need to cream it, I cut it into cubes and put it on the mixer, then gently torch the bowl of the mixer to soften the butter while it's being beaten. I do the same thing. And, of course, I brulée or torch things (like crème brûlée macarons and s'mores custard cake, just to name a couple).

Crème Brûlée is also a great make-ahead dessert. Make it the day before, reserve it in the fridge, and then brulée it right before serving. That's the best way to serve it - the caramel is still warm but the custard is cold and you get the best contrast of textures possible. What could be better?

Honey and Vanilla Crème Brûlée with Sautéed Apples

Sautéed Apples

475 g (4 large) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch dice
3 cinnamon sticks
10 whole cloves
1 vanilla bean
50 g brown sugar
20 g water

Honey and Vanilla Crème Brûlée 

230 g heavy cream
100 g whole milk
50 g honey
66 g egg yolks
4 g vanilla paste or 1 vanilla bean

Granulated sugar

For the apples, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, until the apples are evenly cooked, but not mushy. Remove from heat, remove the whole spices, and cool completely.

For the crème brûlée, combine the cream, milk, honey, and egg yolks in a pitcher and use an immersion blender to purée until smooth (or use a blender). Add the vanilla paste or seeds from the vanilla bean and blend until incorporated. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes to let any bubbles rise to the surface. Skim off any foam or bubbles.

Preheat the oven to 200 F. Prepare 4 glasses or ramekins. Spoon the sautéed apples into the glasses or ramekins about 1/3rd the way up. Gently press them down to compact them a little bit. Gently pour the crème brûlée into the glasses or ramekins. Transfer the glasses or ramekins to a high sided baking pan or casserole dish. Pour hot water into the dish until it comes halfway up the sides of the glasses or ramekins. 

Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the custard has a slight jiggle in the center. Remove from the oven, remove from the water bath, and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until completely cool.

When ready, sprinkle a small amount of sugar onto the top of the crème brûlée and use a handheld torch to caramelize it. Serve immediately. 

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