aster is all about lamb. Lamb is all about rosemary. Stay with me here…
aster lunch menu planning for a group of hungry guests isn’t usually that flexible as lamb joints grace the ovens and aga’s of cooks round the UK. Dessert however allows some creativity. I love the flavour of rosemary in sweet dishes especially when you pair it with sweet caramelised apricots (see here for pannacotta), earthy honeyed pine nuts (see here for pine nut tartlets) or almond and sweet nectarine (see here). Its a shocker I’ve not made a rosemary ice cream yet but creme brule is the next best thing. Having wanted to serve this with some caramelised fresh apricots and almond praline, I settled for some pine nut shortbread since the season did not agree with my fruit of choice. Feel free to experiment here, adding more rosemary to your tastes. Its subtle but still infuses nicely into what made a fitting, elegant and light dessert after a joint of garlic studded lamb leg, roasties and spring greens.
Rosemary Creme Brule
Ingredients (Serves 6)
- 500ml double cream
- 100g caster sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 vanilla pod
- 2 x 10cm lengths of rosemary
- Soft brown sugar to caramelise
- Preheat the oven to 150°C. Prepare 6 creme brule dishes/ramekins (dependant no the size you get around 6 portions- you can use whatever you like as long as its oven proof) and stand them in a deep roasting tray. The tray needs to be deep enough that the ramekins can sit in there and you can fill the tray with water half way up the ramekins.
- Lightly bash the rosemary in a pestle and mortar to begin to release the flavoured oils. Then add to a saucepan with the double cream and the vanilla pod.
- Scald the cream by bringing it just below boiling point then immediately remove from the heat and leave the rosemary/vanilla to infuse for 10-15 minutes. Strain and discard the rosemary. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod into the cream and discard the pod.
- Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar in a wide bowl.
- Carefully stir in the warm cream whisking continuously so that the eggs don’t scramble. Continue to whisk until all is combined.
- Sieve the mixture back into the saucepan. Heat on a very gentle heat for about 1 minute until the mixture begins to thicken a little and coats the back of a wooden spoon – careful the heat isn’t high or it will scramble.
- Pour the mixture into the ramekins.
- Fill the tray with boiling water so it rises half way up the side of the ramekin.
- Carefully place the tray in the oven and allow to cook for 30minutes until the creams are set with a slight wobble. Leave to cool and then chill until needed.
- When ready to serve, scatter a layer of the brown sugar over the top of each cream. Using a blow torch or carefully using a hot grill, heat the top until the sugar beings to caramelise and sets hard. Careful not to burn…its tricky…mine did!
- Serve with the shortbread biscuits for dunking if you wish.
Pine Nut Shortbread
- 175g plain flour
- 125g unsalted butter
- 50g caster sugar
- 50g pine nuts
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- Dry fry the pine nuts in a frying pan until golden. Leave to cool.
- Combine the butter, flour and sugar in a food processor and mix until combined and the mixture in crumbly. Then tip in a handful of the pine nuts and continue to processor the mixture until it forms a dough.
- Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and combine into a ball. Wrap in cling film and leave to cool in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Combine the rest of the pine nuts in a pestle and mortar and bash lightly. Add the 2 tbsp of caster sugar and bash into a ‘pine nut sugar’.
- Roll the shortbread and cut out rounds (whatever shape and size you want) the thickness of 1 pound coin and place them onto a lined baking tray.
- Continue using up the dough. Scatter the pine nut sugar over the top of the shortbread evenly.
- Bake for about 15 minutes until just beginning to turn pale golden. (Don’t overcook past pale gold).
- Cool until ready to serve.