Love Lemony Herbs: Lemon Verbena Crème Brûlée

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Photo by Howard Lee Puckett

Used with permission from Jekka’s Herb Cookbookby Jekka McVicar (Firefly Books, 2011).

My mother made the best crème brûlée. Alistair, my son, has inherited her passion and always rates restaurants and cooks on how well they make this pudding. This is a wonderful recipe; the flavor, with its hint of lemon sherbet, is unique, and makes this brûlée very special. SERVES 4

• 1 cup milk
• 1 handful lemon verbena leaves, finely chopped (reserve a few whole ones to garnish)
• 7 egg yolks
• 1/2 cup fruit sugar
• 1/4 cup whipping cream
• 1/4 cup Demerara sugar or light brown sugar
• Lemon verbena sprigs, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

2. Put milk in a small pan with chopped lemon verbena leaves; bring to simmering point, remove from heat and leave to cool and infuse.

3. Place egg yolks in a bowl with sugar and whisk until pale and thick. Add the cooled infused milk and the cream and whisk well. Pass through a fine-meshed sieve.

4. Ladle the mixture into 4 ramekin dishes and set them in a roasting pan. Pour in enough water to come three-quarters of the way up the side of the ramekins, pop into the oven and cook for 1 hour or until set. Leave to cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

5. Just before serving, sprinkle Demerara sugar or light brown sugar over the top of each pudding and caramelize with either a blow torch or by putting them under a hot grill. Decorate with fresh lemon verbena sprigs.

Click here for the main article, Love Lemony Herbs this Summer.

Purchase Jekka’s Herb Cookbook.

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