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I always make crème brûlée for Christmas and Valentine’s Day dessert. I’d been playing in a bourbon cookbook, The Bourbon Country Cookbook, and the crème brûlée in it sounded fantastic, so we gave it a try. Oh my gosh! Bourbon Caramel Crème Brûlée is hands-down the best crème brûlée I’ve ever made. There’s just a smidge of bourbon in it, and it doesn’t overpower it at all. It enhances it beautifully! I prefer the laziness of sous vide crème brûlée, but the flavor on this one is a knockout!
A huge thanks to Agate Surrey for letting me share the recipe with you! I’ll tell you all about the rest of the book afterwards. If you pick up a copy, make the Beet and Strawberry Salad with Arugula and Poppy Seed Dressing right away. Super delicious, perfectly balanced, and not your average salad by any means.
Bourbon Caramel Crème Brûlée
Makes: 8 servings
With its decadently rich, vanilla-flavored custard topped with a delicate shell of caramel, there’s something incredibly comforting about crème brûlée. We love adding the contrasting mellow flavor of bourbon to our version. If you don’t have a butane torch at home, you can use your broiler. But it’s more fun to torch!
1 quart heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons bourbon
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water
1½ cups sugar, divided
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
Pinch kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream, bourbon, and vanilla to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, remove the mixture from the heat.
In a separate saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water and ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the mixture reaches a boil, stop stirring and cook for about 5 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture turns a deep amber color. At that point, remove the pan from the heat and slowly stir in the cream mixture. Use caution, as the mixture will bubble. Return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar until the yolks just begin to lighten in color. Continue whisking and slowly add the cream and caramel mixture.
Divide the custard among eight 6-ounce ramekins. Place the ramekins in a large roasting pan, and fill the pan with enough cold water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, until the centers of the custards are just set. Remove from the oven and let them cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, uncovered, for 2 to 3 hours.
Sprinkle the tops with about ½ tablespoon of the remaining sugar each. Using a propane torch or broiler, carefully caramelize the top of each custard. Allow the custards to set for 2 minutes. Serve immediately.
Reprinted with permission from The Bourbon Country Cookbook by David Danielson and Tim Laird, Agate Surrey, 2018.
Back to my review…..
The Bourbon Country Cookbook is a fabulous book. A lot of the dishes involve bourbon, but some are iconic regional dishes with no trace of bourbon in sight. Everything’s delicious. It’s all comfort food, but runs the spectrum from easy peasy to total gourmet. If you love the flavors of Kentucky, you’re in for a treat.
The chapters are: Juleps, Jiggers, and Classic Bourbon Cocktails * Small Bites that Make a Big Impression * Wouldn’t You Like to Meet the Genius Who Invented Brunch? * Getting Pickled (and Preserving the Best) * Vegetables: The Real Winner’s Circle * Bourbon Country Grits, Grains, Pastas, and Breads * Whistle and Fish * Barnyard Bounty * Sweet Endings
My thoughts and pics of the dishes we tried:
1) Bourbon Bread Pudding – p 190. This is absolutely wonderful. I made it as a lovely, decadent holiday breakfast. Everyone loved it!
2) Kentucky Mule – p 32. This is a Moscow Mule, but full of bourbon. It’s absolutely glorious. My husband and I both strongly preferred this one.
3) Bacon and Pecan Pimento Cheese – 52. I love this version! I was a little heavy handed with the bacon. The pecans in this are toasted. I might try candied pecans next time for that sweet punch against all the savory notes.
4) Bourbon Breeze – p 30. Lovely refreshing and fruity (pomegranate and lemon) cocktail.
5-6) Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Glaze – p 165. Really flavorful tenderloin. It marinates for 4 hours and then gets a quick roasting blast in oven. It stays absolutely juicy.
7) Bourbon Caramel Crème Brulee – p 187. Love this crème brulee! There’s just a smidge of bourbon in it and it’s the perfect amount. It enhances the crème brulee and doesn’t overpower it at all.
8) Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies – p 185. Oh my gosh. These are so rich! There’s a full pound of bacon in here, and the rendered fat stands in for butter in the cookies. Match that up with the bag of dark chocolate and a smidge of bourbon, and they’re the perfect sweet and salty blend.
9) Kentucky Bourbon Cheese Fondue – p 58. The fondue has a milk and cheddar base with bourbon stirred in at the end. Great flavor.
10) Hickory Smoked Mac and Cheese – p 132. Perfect smoked mac and cheese. The grated onion is a nice touch.
11) Beet and Strawberry Salad with Arugula and Poppy Seed Dressing – p 112. This is a fantastic salad. We all loved the blended strawberry dressing. I never would have put beets and strawberries together and everyone loved the sweet and earthy balance, with the tangy goat cheese punch.
I’ll update this as I play in the book more!
Some others I have flagged to try: Our Signature Mint Julep – p 19 * Bourbon Peach Cooler – p 35 * Kentucky Bourbon Cheese Fondue – p 58 * Crispy Chicken Skins with Bourbon Honey Butter – p 63 * Fried Green Tomatoes with Smoky Aioli – p 65 * Sausage and Spring Onion Scramble over Cheesy Grits – p 70 * Sunday Bird – p 83 * Bluegrass Peaches with Ice Cream – p 85 * Green Beans with Kentuckyaki Sauce – p 101 * Simmered Pole Beans with Tomato and Jowl Bacon – p 106 * Creamed Collard Greens with Buttered Crumbs – p 108 * Farrotto with Pears and Butternut Squash – p 123 * Grit Fritters with Country Ham – p 131 * Poached Salmon with Cucumber Scales – p 148 * Fried Fish Sticks with Buttermilk Ranch Dipping Sauce – p 150 * Bacon-Wrapped Tenderloin with Henry Bain Sauce – p 170 * Bourbon Mustard Glazed Beef Short Ribs – p 177 * Derby Day Burgoo – p 178 * Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie – p 192
*I received a copy to explore and share my thoughts.