Dani Goes South.

Coconut Creme Brulee

SweetsDani ColombattoComment
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The time has finally come for dresses, warm-night-walks, laying next to lakes and oceans (with copious SPF), and coconut scented EVERYTHING. I can hardly contain my excitement- though, I won't lie to you: my first Texas summer kicked my ass. Within 2 days of moving here my legs were covered, and I mean COVERED in 60+ (I counted) mosquito bites. I remember crying to Ben "THIS IS NOT WHAT I MOVED HERE FOR!!!!" I'm laughing now, but at the time...I was NAT having it., to say the least. Luckily, this summer we are planning ahead with a few getaways on the docket we couldn't be more excited for- one being Maui. YAAAAS. I actually haven't been since my junior year of high school (Wow, that sentence makes me feel old!), and my wheels are already turning with outfit ideas, where to grab the best poke, and thoughts of pina coladas by the pool (again, with copious SPF). 

Since we've got a few months until said Hawaiian getaway, I'm bringing a healthy dose of island flavors home with these coconut creme brulees. You guys, I kid you not, this dessert tastes like a straight-up vacation. Vanilla-flecked coconut custard is our base for a crunchy, caramelized, sugar shell, and charred pineapple and strawberries. I almost named this pina colada creme brulee, but truth be told, it tastes equally like a lava flow so I was torn between the two. Please grab your nearest tropical button-down, and accompany me to coconut creme brulee town.

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Preheat your oven to 325F. Scrape the seeds from 2 vanilla beans, and reserve the pods. To a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, add your coconut milk, cream, vanilla bean seeds and pods, and coconut extract. Choosing the right coconut extract is key here, and this is kind of the one situation I'm going to advise you to go tacky, and stick with that imitation coconut, baby-doll! It truly brings all of those being on a beach, smelling sunscreen vibes, which is exactly what we are trying to achieve here. Don't go with the real stuff. It's too subtle. Again, literally the one time I'll probably ever say that sentence, hah!

Bring to a boil, and remove from the heat immediately once brought to a boil. Whisk together your eggs, along with 5 tbs of your sugar until well combined. Slowly whisk the heated cream mixture into your eggs and sugar, making sure to stir constantly. Try and add a little at a time as your whisking so you temper your eggs, and don't scramble them. Divide your mixture among 4-5 heat-safe ramekins placed in a baking dish. If you want, you could probably divide this mixture into 6-7 smaller vessels. You would just need to adjust your baking times accordingly. Pour enough warm water into the baking dish so that it goes halfway up your ramekins. 

Bake until the center of your creme brulee is just about set. Since the bake time is directly related to the height of your vessel, bake 10 minutes for every half inch of height. Example: For a 2 inch vessel, bake the creme brulees for 40 minutes. 

After baking, remove from the water bath, and allow to completely cool before transferring to the refrigerator. Allow to refrigerate about 30 minutes before serving, although, you can totally leave them in the fridge overnight, and torch them immediately before serving.

Speaking of torching, for that portion of the program, simply sprinkle each ramekin of cooled custard with a heaping tablespoon of granulated sugar, and light it up!  

To serve, I kept with the general vacation vibes of this creme brulee, and torched up some strawberries and pineapple, because, as per previous mention, I wanted this to taste like an island cocktail, sans booze. However, feel free to make some freshly whipped cream, switch up the fruit sitch, add a sprinkle of powdered sugar- something chocolate would even be amazing here. This isn't really a space for rules. 

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The custard is so perfectly cool, light and creamy, it seems like it's been whipped for hours, but in reality, it comes together in a flash, and is such a good compliment to the hot, crunchy, sugar. The light torching of the fruit releases their sugars, and gets them macerating quickly, and almost becomes a super light sauce as you're eating it. Not mad. 

Speaking of vacays, I'm off to a quick little getaway in San Clemente, CA, and couldn't be more excited! I get to hang with most of my fam, and we're even taking a little unprecedented trip to Disneyland with all the cousins and their littles- I'm SO. EXCITED. Especially, because this will be my niece's first Disney trip (!!!)- I can't wait to watch her cute little face on every ride!

Do you guys have any fun warm-weather plans on the docket? I would loooove to hear (not mad at a Maui recommendation, either)! 

Coconut Creme Brulee

Adapted from Damaris Phillips

Serves 4-6

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 cup heavy cream

2 Vanilla beans, seeds scraped, pods reserved

4 large eggs

1 tsp imitation coconut extract

8-9 tbs sugar

Fresh fruit such as pineapple and strawberries, to serve (optional)