Creme brulee captures all the magic of the Imbolc season in one little ceramic dish.
This classic french dessert incorporates early spring ingredients like fresh cream, berries and snowy sugar.
As the icy morning frost yields to cool spring dew, take a moment to relish the warmth of cold-weather kitchen witchery.
Creme Brulee and Kitchen Witch Symbolism
In kitchen magic, creme brulee represents winter giving way to spring.
The crunchy hard crust of caramelized sugar can be likened to a layer of ice over the softening spring earth.
Creme itself calls to mind the strong associations of milk and dairy with the Imbolc holiday.
The egg custard beneath the sugar crust reminds us that Ostara is on its way, and the season of fertile earth soon emerges.
Sometimes called “The Seed Holiday,” Imbolc is a time to bless seeds before you put them in the earth.
In this version of creme brulee, we top the dessert with raspberries.
A single raspberry contains as many as 4,000 seeds.
The raspberries in this recipe represent the potential of the coming spring.
Dairy (especially milk & cream) is a central theme in Imbolc festivals.
It’s traditional to pour an offering of cream or milk in the garden to bless the planting season.
The cream in this dish symbolizes the “white gold” that is seasonal milk & cream.
Considering sourcing it locally at a nearby farm.
Vanilla symbolizes the warmth of love, the hearth fire and abundance.
A single vanilla bean contains thousands of tiny seeds.
Add it to your dish to fill your kitchen and home with compassion, joy and prosperity.
Everyone knows the best part of making creme brulee, hands down, is the part where you get to play with fire.
But this process of applying fire directly to food corresponds nicely with Imbolc as a fire festival.
Also known as Candlmas, Imbolc encourages us to chase away the darkness of winter by lighting candles.
The use of a torch in this dish calls to mind the thousands of tiny points of light practitioners all over the world ignite during the Imbolc season.
If you don’t already have one, pick up a (affiliate link —–>) kitchen torch, then give yourself the gift of culinary pyromania today.
A staple in spring magic, eggs vibrate with potential magical energy.
As a key ingredient in this dish, eggs symbolize potential, fertility and the unfolding of the future.
Consider hand-gathering your eggs at a nearby farm, or procuring them from a friend who raises chickens.
Tips & Tricks
Like many french dishes, the ingredients are simple, but the process itself is an art form.
I picked up a number of tips and tricks from this video.
Here’s a few that I found most useful.
-Allow cream to cool slightly before tempering the eggs to avoid a scrambled mess.
-Make sure that the custard sets but is still jiggly in the middle before allowing it to cool.
-Don’t try to substitute vanilla extract for the vanilla bean.
(Please note: This section may contain affiliate links. Mostly because I want to spare you the drama of trying to track down a reasonably priced vanilla bean at your local grocery store.)
-2 cups heavy whipping cream
-6 eggs yolks
-1 vanilla bean
-2/3 cup sugar + more for the crust
–optional: 1 cup fresh raspberries for garnish
-ceramic or glass baking dish
-medium size sauce pan
-small mixing bowl
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meanwhile, put a pot of water on the stove to boil and forget about it. Because you know what they say about watching a pot come to boil.
Okay, bust out your vanilla bean.
If it’s flattened, plump it out a little with your fingers so it’s more rounded. You’ll see what I mean.
With a sharp paring knife, split the bean down t+++++++he center. Then, run the back of the knife through the interior of the bean to scrape out the seeds inside. It looks like a dark brown paste. Like this:
Put a sauce pan on the stove (separate from the pot with the boiling water) and slowly heat the cream on medium-low heat, whisking frequently. Add sugar. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the cream, then drop the vanilla bean shell in the pot.
Bring it to a very gentle simmer. Once you see bubbles start to form on the edges, you’re just about where you want to be.
Remove the cream from the stove and allow it to cool for about 15 minutes.
Separate yolks from egg whites and set the egg whites aside for another purpose.
Whisk egg yolks in a bowl. Slowly, about a half cup at a time, add the cream to the bowl. You want to temper the eggs. If you go to fast, you’ll scramble them and this whole situation will go south pretty quickly.
Place ramkins in ceramic or glass baking dish.
Divide custard evenly among the ramkins, but make sure to leave some “head room” at the top.
Go get your pot of water. It should be boiling by now. Pour the water into the space between the ramkins until it comes about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up the sides of the ramkins.
Be very careful not to splash water inside the ramkins where the cream is.
Place the baking dish in the oven and bake at 300 degrees for 35-50 minutes.
It should be set but jiggly in the middle when it comes out.
Remove the baking dish from the oven. Carefully remove ramkins from the baking dish and allow them to cool for 1 hour before placing them in the refrigerator.
Allow them to set for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
Now for the fun part.
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for.
Get your blow torch. I mean, kitchen torch. Whatever, it’s a baby blow torch, we all know this.
Sprinkle sugar on top of the set custard. You want to coat it thoroughly.
Fire the sugar until it turns golden brown.
If it’s starts to smoke, you’ve gone too far. But don’t worry. Even the burnt bits are pretty tasty.
Top with fresh berries and serve.