OK, just a quick bookkeeping note before I get back to this incredible GRILLED dessert...
This is my third post of the day. I wanted to do an update on my guest bloggers and also do a post recognizing a new follower (those little boxes of heads at the top of the middle column). So when you are finished, keep scrolling and read those items.
One final little note, yesterday I also did more than one posting (only 2 this time). Apparently lots of you all liked my lamb chops, as I set a new record for people looking at one of my pages (whoo whoo). But unfortunately, less than a third of the people who read that posting read the earlier posting (some failed to continue scrolling). This is understandable, what kind of nut just sits and writes and writes and writes. One posting a day is normal for most sane people. Like I said, understandable, but I would encourage those that missed it to read this posting by clicking HERE. I wouldn't push it, I am pretty proud of the writing of that post. No food content, but I weave a tale involving God, violence, dirty words (well, word), giggles and existentialism. Wow, I just realized it has been more than 30 years since I learned what that word meant, but that piece of rambling writing may be the most existentialist thing I have ever written and probably even thought...but I digress. Again, if you haven't peaked in on that posting take a look, I am pretty pleased with it.
OK, back to this dessert... This is the fourth and final dessert in the Steven Raichlen book, HOW TO GRILL. To be honest, I have a HUGE mancrush on Steven and this book. I am a much better griller since I started this cookthrough project, and I will recommend this book to everyone. But not for desserts. He goes into details about grilling S'Mores (a girl scout can do that), he provides a grilled pear recipe that I really did not care for at all, and he offers details on grilling pineapple that, while tasty, is very every simple. Combine those three with this recipe, and you will see why I find this chapter... well, lacking inspiration.
While the recipe is indeed cooked on the grill, this is primarily a recipe that is easily done in the oven and the fact that it is done outside does not really add anything to the final product. the grill is set up for indirect heat, meaning just the outside burners are on in my 4 burner gas grill, or if cooking over coals, extra effort has to be done to insure the space under the pan shown above is free of hot coals. With the lid closed, your grill becomes a convection oven.
Combine this with the fact that you need to refrigerate the brulee after it cooks to custard consistency, you realize that your big dessert presentation comes out of the fridge, and not off the grill. Honestly, if I were not doing a cookthrough project with the book, I am sure I will not repeat the recipe on the grill. I will cook this again, it tasted fabulous, but the grilling part just seemed... forced.
Here's what i did...
The recipe is very straight forward. Long time readers know that I do not reprint Steven's recipes exactly. Respect for the copyright and all that. Since this is a cookthrough project, if I reprinted every recipe, i would be reprinting the entire book. Not fair to Steven, or the publisher that pays his royalty fees (and keeps him producing new projects). But I did a little checking around google, and I found many recipes very similar. He didn't reinvent the wheel with this. He did do one terrific thing for grillers, he suggested adding 2 dried chipotle peppers into the soup as it cooked. This added a great layer of flavor I have never had in this popular dessert. Very sweet from the sugar and heavy cream, but the back of your tongue has a kick. This did actually make it a unique grilling accented dessert, perfect for serving after a grilled meal.
OK, the recipe is very easy, combine the ingredients, cook gently over the stove (again, not really a grill recipe, but I continue to bitch and digress...). Strain into ramekins (new word for me, those little shallow pans that I always wondered why we owned those little shallow bowls (let alone heart shaped little shallow bowls) that were always in my way when i wanted to find something useful). Then comes the real cooking technique, and the grill...
Carefully strain the goop into the ramekins, and put those in a baking dish. Pour about a half inch of water into the bottom of the pan WITHOUT getting any into the ramekins (I can;t stop using that word).
But when I say ramekin out loud, I think about those Milwaukee's Best Light Beer ads... "Men should act like men", there is some guy talking about a Sandra Bullock movie, or knowing how to arrange flowers, or wearing pink shirts... Or knowing the word ramekin and then a giant beer can falls from the sky and crushes him...
But I digress... best to pour the water into the pan once it is safely on the grill (oven from now on), as the water should not slop over into the ramekin (LOOK OUT, ABOVE YOU). Close the preheated grill to medium and let the cooking magic work for about 30 minutes. Steven gives a handy tip to test for doneness, by tapping the edge of the ramekin. If it ripples, not done, if it shakes, done, and if a giant beer can comes crashing down as you tap your ramekin, the dish is ruined.
Move the ramekins to a cooling rack for a bit, and then refrigerate for 4 hours or more.
Then comes some caveman stuff... FIRE or a BRANDING IRON!
In the back of our cabinets, near where those silly shallow little dishes (often called ramekins by women and gay guys (not there is anything wrong with that)), my wife had a little blow torch made just for this...
Sprinkle a layer of turbinado sugar on the top of the custard, and carefully caramelize the sugar. While you are controlling fire, feel free to say ramekins as much as you like, as the fire torch out weighs the knowledge that those little shallow pans are called ramekins.
Steven has a specialty branding iron that you put in the fire and then once it is hot, uses that to caramelize, but he also shows the fire method. Since i already owned that little blowtorch, I chose that method.
Be careful not to burn the sugar, just get it gently bubbling and brown not any darker than what is shown.
Serving this in a heart shaped ramekin made my wife pee her pants...
And serving it at the firepit got her in a very good mood.
OK, this is a great recipe, it tasted fabulous, and I will make it again. It is stretching to call this a grilling recipe, but there it is. I suppose if you used the branding iron method of caramelizing the sugar, it adds grill presentation to the mix and makes it more of a grilling recipe, but it is still a stretch.
The extra chipotle was a great touch. My wife who does not appreciate hot hot stuff, commented that it was just enough to be a flavor accent and did not overwhelm the dessert with heat. But then, she had just peed her pants, so maybe she wanted more heat than normal. It would take quite a bit of the pepper to really overwhelm the tastes of all that heavy cream and sugar. The extra chipotle was a terrific touch.
On my often used scale of 1 to 5, I give this a 2 for cooking technique. It simply should not be included in a grilling book. For taste, this gets a big 5 of 5. It tastes great. So, i will be generous since I did not use the branding iron from the grill and average this up to a 4 overall.
And now, I promise to not use the word ramekin again.
This recipe can be found on page 432 of Steven Raichlen's amazing grill guide, HOW TO GRILL. The book includes three pages of detailed instructions, including lots of photographs and a simple easy to follow recipe. Click HERE to go to Amazon.com and read other people's reviews or to order. I just found out they have discounted the price, new copies are available for less than $10 and used copies for less than $5!
R, CAG and G... Good Talk