Floriade, the annual floral spectacular in Canberra, was the perfect location for Chef Claude Fremy to cook this dessert for me.
Preheat the oven to 120°C.
Place six shallow (2.5 cm high and 10 cm diameter) crème brûlée dishes or ramekins on a baking tray.
Place the cream and lavender in a medium saucepan. Slit the vanilla beans lengthways and scrape out the seeds. Add both to the saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat, cover and leave to infuse.
Whisk the egg yolks and 3 tablespoons of the caster sugar together until well blended and, while still whisking, strain and drizzle in a quarter of the infused cream (to temper the yolks). Pour in the rest of the liquid, mix to combine and pour it into the baking dishes.
Bake the crème brûlées for 40–60 minutes, or until set but still slightly wobbly in the centre. Let the crème brûlées cool until they reach room temperature. Cover each with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
For the caramel, place the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and stir only until the sugar dissolves. Cook for a few minutes until the caramel starts to turn golden. Once caramelised, drizzle onto a sheet of baking paper and make decorative shapes to place on top of the crème brûlées.
Combine the flower garnish ingredients gently.
To serve, sprinkle each crème brûlée evenly with 1 tablespoon caster sugar, then brown the sugar with a blowtorch until it bubbles and colours. Top with the caramel decorations and flower garnish.
Tempering the egg yolks, by adding a small amount of hot liquid to the yolks before adding the remainder, gently raises the temperature to prevent the mixture from curdling. Lavender syrup is made by bringing 300g sugar and 300ml water to the boil, simmering for 5 minutes then infusing with up to a cup of washed lavender. Strain before use.
Desserts are always best matched with a dessert wine. Traditionally these were botrytised semillons but increasingly other white varietals are used, too.
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