Asparagus Vanilla Crème Brûlée by Chef Lau Young of Provence Bistro

Asparagus Vanilla Crème Brûlée

Chef Lau Young,
Provence Bistro

Chef Lau has paired this classic French dessert with an unusual partner: asparagus. The sweetness of the vegetable plays nicely with the rich sweet cream flavour. Chef Lau says you could also substitute carrot.

1 lb green or white asparagus, ends trimmed off and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

1/2 piece vanilla bean
2 cups whipping cream
2 cups milk
9 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp sugar per ramekin
Strawberries, sliced
Star fruit, sliced
Mint sprigs
Coconut rum ice cream (vanilla can be substituted)

1. In a saucepan, add asparagus, sugar and water. Bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and simmer gently until asparagus is tender.
3. Set aside and let steep and cool.
4. In a blender, add asparagus pieces and 1/4 cup of the simple syrup. Purée until smooth. Strain and set aside.
Note: This step can be done 1-2 hours beforehand.

1. Preheat oven to 250˚F.
2. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. In a saucepan, at medium high heat, add cream, milk, vanilla seeds and bean. Stir occasionally.
3. In a mixing bowl, lightly whisk egg yolks with sugar until slightly pale.
4. When cream mixture comes to a boil, slowly ladle into the egg mixture, a little at a time while constantly whisking. Strain out vanilla bean.
5. Add asparagus purée to custard. Mix well and ladle into ramekins.
6. Place ramekins in pan and fill 1/3 with water.
7. Put pan in oven and cook for 1-1 1/2 hours. The custard is done when the centre moves slightly when gently shaken (similar to baking a cheesecake).
8. Carefully remove from oven and slide ramekins onto cooling rack. Once cold, transfer to fridge.

To serve
1. Sprinkle 1 tsp sugar over each ramekin. Caramelize under broiler at high heat or with a blowtorch, making a thin, brown topping.
2. Arrange garnish fruit, ice cream, biscotti, and ramekin of crème brûlée on plate. Serve immediately.

Yield 18 (2 oz ramekin) servings