Coconut Crème Brûlée

Paleo_Coconut_Creme_Brulee.jpg
I guess there must be a first time for everything…right?
So, today I post the first ever dessert recipe here on Strictly Paleo…ish!
(About time, don’t you think?!).

Crème Brûlée is such a popular dish, that it almost sounds like a cliché when I say it’s my all time favorite dessert.
For me…not much beat the satisfaction of rounding off a nice dinner with a perfectly cooked crème brûlée, and these days I honestly get relieved when I dine out and see that the restaurant does not offer it so I don’t have to ruin the experience battling cravings.
(Equally honestly, if (and when) I do occasionally cheat…it is highly likely to be with a proper crème brûlée!)

Anyway…this week I’ve been experimenting a bit with making a Paleo compliant crème brûlée, so that I can enjoy it as an occasional treat rather than a cheat.
(Usually I don’t recommend substitutes, as that does not help much in changing behavior…but some cravings probably are best handled by giving in so that you then can move on instead of having a complete breakdown…and in those cases substitutes are better (or less bad) choices.)

First I must say, a proper crème brûlée for me is made of cream, egg yolks, vanilla beans and raw sugar. Nothing else.
I almost get upset when I see “strawberry/lemon/liquorice/whatever” crème brûlée’s on a menu…
Making a Paleo compliant version, of course, must contain other ingredients…which will add flavor.
The obvious choice for replacing the cream was coconut milk, so I went all in and added even more coconut to really make it a coconut flavored crème brûlée, hoping it would make it a more interesting experience rather than a bland imitation.

Second I must say, a proper crème brûlée for me has a crispy, crunchy, cover. If not it’s just a pudding…
This was hands down the hardest thing to do creating this recipe, and I’m sorry to have to break this to you but…it seems like you just can’t get that texture if not caramelizing sugar.
I tried torching coconut palm sugar…instantly got burned.
I tried torching honey…did not caramelize, but did get less sticky and more jelly like.
I tried melting coconut palm sugar in a dry frying pan…it worked!, but was impossible to transfer from the pan to the crème brûlée as it just stuck to the spoon and instantly hardened (so caramelizing coconut palm sugar is possible, just not on a crème brûlée it seems…).
I tried adding a little water when melting the coconut palm sugar in the dry pan…just got sticky and did not harden.
The best result I got using the method described in the recipe below, which gave it a sticky, yet slightly crunchy, cover that even flaked a bit when broken. (Also, the roasted coconut baked into the cover helped giving it a crunchier experience.)
Good enough.

Actually, I’m quite happy with how this recipe turned out and will definitely make it again when required to prevent the cravings to throw me off the wagon…

Hope you’ll like it too! :)

Ingredients:
(Serves 4)

• 1 1/3 cup (3dl) extra creamy Coconut Milk.
• 3 Egg Yolks
• 3 tbsp + 8 tsp Coconut Palm Sugar.
• 1 Vanilla Bean.
• 1 + 1 tbsp shredded Coconut.

How To:
Prep:
Pre-heat oven to 320F (160C).
Set a kettle of water to boil.
Place four crème brûlée dishes in a deep baking pan.

Step 1:
Put the coconut milk in a pot.

With a knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds using the backside of the blade.
Add the seeds and the scraped out pod to the coconut milk.

Slowly bring it to a boil over low heat then set aside.

In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the 3 tablespoons coconut sugar.

Remove the vanilla pod from the coconut milk, then slowly pour it into the egg yolk/coconut sugar mix while rapidly whisking.

Using a ladle, divide equally into the crème brûlée dishes, and stir between each scoop to get the vanilla seeds evenly distributed. Fill the dishes almost all the way up to the rim.

Pour the hot water into the baking pan, so that it reaches at least halfway up the outside of the crème brûlée dishes.

CAREFULLY transfer the baking pan to the oven.
(You do not want waves of water splashing into the crème brûlée…)

Bake for 45 minutes then, as carefully, take the pan out of the oven.

Transfer the brûlée dishes to another tray using a wide but sturdy spatula.

Let them cool down a bit, then cover them with plastic wrap and place the tray in the fridge for at least a few hours.

Step 2:
Take out the tray with the brûlée’s from the fridge.
Turn on the oven broiler.

In a dry frying pan, roast 1 tablespoon shredded coconut until light brown.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon coconut palm sugar evenly over each crème brûlée, then sprinkle the roasted coconut on top of that.

Run them under the broiler for about three minutes, then take them out.
Sprinkle another teaspoon of coconut palm sugar over each, then run for another 3 minutes under the broiler.

Take them out, sprinkle some shredded (not roasted) coconut over, and let them cool down in the fridge for about 5-10 minutes.
(You don’t want to serve them hot, but slightly warm is perfectly ok and definitely better than cold!)

Serve as is, or garnished with some fresh berries if you like.

That’s it, the story behind my first dessert recipe post :)

Paleo_Coconut_Creme_Brulee_Spoon.jpg

Wish you all a great week, and especially for my American friends I hope you’ll have a nice Memorial Day with family, friends and a lot of awesome food!

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11 thoughts on “Coconut Crème Brûlée

  1. Sounds intriguing! When you say “coconut palm sugar”, is this the same as what is called “jaggery”? In that case, do you have to grate it? I have some agave sugar … wonder how that would caramalise?

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  4. What does “3 + 8 tablespoons coconut palm sugar” mean? I live in the US and I’ve never seen “3+8 tablespoons” as a measurement before …

    • Hi Katie!

      It mean the recipe calls for coconut palm sugar for two separate purposes (3 tbsp for the custard (step 5), and 8 tbsp for the topping (step 15 & 16)).

      Thanks for asking, and hope the explanation clarifies it!

      //Peter

  5. I know for a fact that maple sugar will caramelize. Plus it has a wonderful flavor! That would work best here. I made candied banana eclairs from Jenni Hulet’s book My Paleo Patisserie and the maple sugar torched on top of the bananas worked perfectly! Try that.

    • Nice, thanks Melissa! And the timing couldn’t have been better; I was planning on making an iHerb purchase later tonight, so I’ll definitely add some maple sugar to the order! :)
      //Peter

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  7. Hi, I’ve just tried your coconut crème brulée and it was delicious…..thank you for your great recipe. Just one question: when bringing the coconut milk and vanilla to the boil, do you have to stir continuously? Also how long should it take until it boils ? In any case, will definitely be doing this recipe again 😃.

    • Hi Marie-Laure!
      My apologies for the late response.
      You do not need to stir continuously, and no specific time to bring it to a boil. Just set it to a medium-low heat and let it take the time it takes (the longer time it takes, the more time for the vanilla to infuse the coconut milk. But there’s no need to over-do it either.) :)

      Happy you liked it!

      Take care
      //Peter

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