How about trying this seductive little treat to top off your next dinner party! Poh Ling Yeow’s Rhubarb & Spiced Orange Brûlée is just one of the decadent delights in her popular recent book Poh Bakes 100 Greats (Murdoch Books). Irresistible!
This combo just works so well – the tartness of the rhubarb with the richly spiced custard under a faintly bitter crust of caramelised sugar. If the infusion is too much for you to manage, you can omit the spices and just go for the orange zest or plain vanilla-flavoured custard.
250 g (9 oz) rhubarb stalks, sliced into 2 cm (3/4 inch) pieces (about 2 cups)
60 g (21/4 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
60 ml (2 fl oz/ 1/4 cup) water
200 ml (7 fl oz) milk
300 ml (101/2 fl oz) thin (pouring) cream
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 cinnamon stick, roughly crushed
2 green cardamom pods, bashed
1.5 cm (5/8 inch) piece of ginger, bashed
5 egg yolks
75 g (21/2 oz/ 1/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
3 tablespoons raw (demerara)
Preheat the oven to 100°C (200°F) fan-forced.
To make the compote, combine the rhubarb, sugar and water in a small saucepan, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes until softened, then whisk to break up the threads. Divide the rhubarb among six 9–10 cm (31/2–4 inch) ramekins with 5 cm (2 inch) sides, and spread the mixture to cover the bottom of each dish.
To make the custard, microwave the milk, cream, orange zest, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger in a heatproof bowl for 3 minutes on the highest setting. Cool, then cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the yolks and sugar until pale and thick. Using a sieve, strain the infused milk into the yolk-and-sugar mixture. Add the vanilla, then microwave for 2-minute bursts on the highest setting until it is thickened and easily coats the back of a wooden spoon. If the mixture splits a little, bung it all into a blender and blitz on high speed to see if it can be salvaged.
Divide the custard evenly among the ramekins, place them on a baking tray and bake for 20–30 minutes until just set – the custard should be wobbly still. Allow to cool, before transferring to the refrigerator to chill completely.
When ready to serve, sprinkle a teaspoon of the raw sugar on the surface of each brûlée, and torch until the sugar caramelises and forms a crust. It’s good to have a few quite dark spots, as this will add a lovely bitterness. If you don’t have a blowtorch, simply place very close to the preheated element of a hot grill (broiler), and watch carefully.
Tip – The larger the grains of sugar, the easier they will caramelise because of the cavities surrounding the granules, which allow the heat to circulate. Fine sugar is too dense for the heat to penetrate and will more than likely burn black on melting.
Poh Bakes 100 Greats by Poh Ling Yeow (Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99) Photography by Alan Benson.