Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Gingered Creme Brulee Tartlets and a Small Kitchen Fire

A while ago, I bought some stem ginger to use for Pierre Herme's Apricot and Ginger Chocolate Cake. I am really not a ginger lover, neither is anyone else in my family. But that recipe really sounded great, and I had read rave reviews about it on a Pierre Herme thread in egullet, so I really wanted to try it. It turns out that stem ginger is not easy to find nor is it cheap--deservedly so, too, as it is nothing like the more readily available crystallized ginger. In the end, I mail ordered a small jar. You may remember that when I finally made the cake, I was a little disappointed with it. So the opened jar stayed in my refrigerator for quite a while. I checked on it every now and then. When I saw yesterday during one of these routine checks that its syrup had started to crystallize, I decided not to let it go to waste, hence these tartlets from Simple Tarts by Elizabeth Wolf-Cohen.

From the top to right: Root ginger, crystallized ginger and stem ginger

The tartlets were easy to prepare, and the ginger gave them a subtle Eastern flavor. I doubled the recipe and was a little more generous with the ginger than the recipe suggested, but I still have more than half the jar left. I have to be on the lookout for more ginger recipes. Preferably something summery, ginger ice cream, maybe?

Coming to the second and more exciting part of the title to this post, while I fueled my kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar for the tartlets, some fuel must have dripped into the kitchen sink. As soon as I turned the torch on, big flames rose from the sink. Luckily, they died as fast as they rose, but it was a very scary 5 seconds there. A good reminder to return my fire extinguisher (that I had put away to make room for "more important" kitchen gadgets) to its well-deserved place on the kitchen counter.
  • 4 tartlet pans lined with crust pastry, blind-baked
  • 1 1/4 c whipping cream
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs ginger syrup (from the stem ginger bottle)
  • 1 piece stem ginger, finely chopped
  • 3-4 tbs granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 325F. Set the tartlet shells on a baking sheet for easier handling. Bring cream to a boil. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolks, sugar and ginger syrup until lightened, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the hot cream, stirring constantly. Strain and mix in the chopped ginger. (I admit that I also added a little vanilla, as Yurdaer can be picky when a dessert smells eggy.) Divide the mixture evenly among the tartlet shells. Bake until the custard is lightly set, about 15 minutes. Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Before serving, sprinkle tartlets with a thin layer of sugar and use the broiler or a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar. Wait for a few minutes to allow the caramel to harden. Enjoy!