Monday, 17 March 2014

Bailey's Crème Brûlée

As today is St. Patrick’s Day, I wanted to produce something indulgent and delicious to eat but something that was ultimately simple to make and could be prepared beforehand. Ultimately, I wanted something that was Irish. This crème brûlée really fitted the bill and everyone thought it was amazing. I served it with a few thin shortbread biscuits on the side – the buttery crunch was just perfect with the creamy richness of the brûlée.

Many people think that brûlées are highly technical and difficult to make, but to be honest, once you remove them from the oven when they still have a very lightly ‘wobble’ in the centre and then ensure that they are well chilled before you finish with the caramel topping, success will be guaranteed.

In my ignorance, I thought that Bailey’s had been around for many years, but the Irish whiskey and cream based liqueur was only developed in the 1970s by Gilbeys of Ireland for the international market. It quickly became popular and is a well-established brand at this stage. I love to use it in homemade, ice-creams, cheesecakes and truffles. I also sometimes add a generous splash of it to my homemade rice pudding just before serving… lovely!!!

I have adapted the basic crème brûlée recipe that I have been using for years and have substituted Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur for some of the double cream that would normally be used. As the custard sets at a low heat in its bain marie in the oven, the alcohol in the liqueur does not ‘burn off’. I don’t consider this a problem but you might want to be aware of it if you had been planning on serving the brûlées to children.

I think that if you asked most non-Irish people what food they would associate with Ireland, the overwhelming response would be POTATOES!

Yes, the Irish love their potatoes, but over the past few decades we have developed a wide ranging agri-food sector with many quality food producers emerging and establishing themselves and their products in a challenging marketplace where the multi-national supermarkets hold such power. It is testament to the quality of the foodstuffs being made and the dedication of the producers that these businesses manage to survive and their excellence recognised abroad. I believe that Ireland has the best dairy product best beef in the world. Our smoked salmon is second-to-none. My husband has a sheep farm and the lamb that he produces is so delicious. I see on a daily basis the love and care he gives to his animals and the hard work he puts in to produce the sweetest, tastiest lamb.

On this St. Patrick’s Day I think we should celebrate and rejoice in the wonderful produce available in this beautiful country of ours, brought to us by the many devoted farmers and food producers around this country.

Crème brûlée is one of the classic desserts and this is my version, with an Irish twist in honour of the day that’s in it!
 

Ingredients:

8 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
400ml double cream
200ml Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur
To finish:
Demerara Sugar
 

Method:

1. Gently whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a fairly large bowl. Put the cream and Bailey’s into a saucepan and bring to boiling point. Remove from heat and pour onto the egg yolks mixture in the bowl, whisking it continuously.
2. Pour this mixture into six ramekins or as I have done, 6 coffee cups and then place in a fairly deep roasting tray. Carefully pour boiling water into the roasting tray to come half way up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the tray with aluminium foil and place in the preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes until just set but with a very slight wobble in the centre.
3. Allow to cool and then refrigerate until they are fully chilled.
To finish:
4. Sprinkle the top of each brûlée with a thin layer of Demerara sugar and using a blowtorch heat the sugar until it melts and caramelizes on top of each brûlée. Serve immediately.
 

Serves 6.