Have you ever imagined what it could be like to walk on Mars? It’s incredible to think that one of the latest finds on the planet is a type of soil that’s used on Earth to grow asparagus. I wonder if I could bring some accompanying hollandaise sauce on an eventual space shuttle birthday adventure?
When I discovered that my astrology planet Mars – named after the Roman God of War – had something to do with a fiery temper and passionate, impulsive behaviour, what could I say? It’s not me, darlings; it’s that red planet again.
One fiery implosion was in my brazen-but-bashful teens, about to burst out of my 80s flying suit like David Banner, via the Incredible Sulk – playing Mars as bass flute in The Planets by Holst with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. It was a low moment. I’d finally been selected First Flute (note: the older I get, the better I was) which meant playing the orchestral flute solos in concerts abroad, on BBC radio… Listen to the opening Mars theme while reading this for ambience. Why was I at the bloomin’ bottom of the flute section, trying to prop up this beast that sounded like the last of the bath water draining? Because I simply had the longest, spindly, sprawling hands to get my fingers over the damn keys! Why couldn’t I be short and be FF? Mars was playing outside but it was also calling me from within but I played on. After all, music be the food of love (dixit Shakespeare.)
Moods can quickly change, however, when confronted with a dessert – a milk chocolatey dessert, with explosive fruit to kindle the passion in you, and topped with a crackling, caramel crust that can turn your earth upside down. How can you be mad with rage? Hm. There’s that mad word again. I wonder why the publisher chose that?
Crème Brûlée is one of my favourite recipes to use up egg yolks. (You need the whites to make macarons, in case this is your first time popping in.) Like Amélie Poulain, cracking through the carmelised sugar is one of life’s incredible thrills. Living dangerously, eh? As one of my favourite macarons is chocolate and exotic fruits (see page 89 of the book), I’ve been dying to try the sensation in a crème brûlée. The classic recipe is on page 124 of the book but I’ve adapted it here to cope with the passionfruit juice and chocolate, cutting back on cream. I strained the seeds from the passionfruits but there’s no need if you prefer the extra crunch. Adding milk chocolate did not make it pretty for the photos, but this is from another planet. The red planet. Grrrrr.
Milk Chocolate & Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Chilling Time: 2 hours
8 egg yolks
80g caster sugar
400ml (13.5 US fl oz) cream
120g milk chocolate
4 tbsps brown sugar for caramelising
- Preheat oven to 110°C.
- Remove the pulp from the passionfruits and using the back of big spoon, press the pulp through a sieve to remove the seeds.
- Mix yolks and sugar until creamy, then whisk in the passionfruit pulp. Gently heat the cream and milk chocolate in a pan until warm and the chocolate has melted (don’t boil.) Pour over the egg mixture and mix thoroughly.
- Pour into individual ramekins and place in a bain-marie (a roasting tray filled halfway up with water will suffice) in the oven for about one hour. Leave them to cool, then chill for 2 hours in the fridge.
- Before serving, dust with the brown sugar then caramelise them quickly with a blowtorch or under a hot grill.
To finish off, I tried another version by omitting the milk chocolate in the passionfruit cream. Instead, plop in a lump of dark chocolate just before putting each ramekin in the oven. The result? A surprising, oozing, chocolatey black hole for your guests to float into the Milky Way.
Let’s take that one again but back down to Earth’s angle. Who also loves cracking the caramel with the spoon?