COCONUT milk is present in so much of our food – from breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes to snacks and desserts – that we Asians probably have the ingredient running though our veins.
As with cream (and butter) in French dishes, coconut milk adds richness and makes our lemak dishes what they are.
Now, the French may not be known for using much, if any, coconut milk in their cooking, but what if we took a dessert that is quintessentially theirs and paired it with an omnipresent Malaysian ingredient?
One result is coconut crème brûlée. If you like coconut, your heart will skip a beat when you eat this – which may have a little to do with the richness of the dish but also everything to do with how cracking good it is.
The best sugar to use for the topping is demerara sugar. It’s not always easy to get so I tested the recipe with other types of (local) sugar – fine, coarse, white and brown – and used a blow torch and an oven grill to caramelise it. The best result is coarse white sugar, and a blow torch caramelises the sugar quickly and evenly. The grill is fine although it takes a little longer. Keep a close eye on the ramekins in the oven and turn them occasionally for even browning.
The recipe for Coconut Crème Brûlée is easily doubled. I used 150ml ramekins, which make three servings. That’s one each for the partner and you, and an extra one to fight over. I say just hide it in the fridge for later. n Marty blogs at martythyme. blogspot.com
Coconut Crème Brûlée
Makes 3 servings 100ml thick coconut milk 125ml whipping cream 3 tbsp caster sugar ¼ tsp coconut essence Pinch of salt 3 medium egg yolks ¼ tsp cornflour 2 tbsp coarse white sugar Desiccated coconut, toasted Combine the coconut milk and cream. Pour half into a saucepan with the sugar, coconut essence and salt; heat until just before boiling point. Remove from heat and add the remaining coconut milk and cream.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150°C, put a kettle of water on and place three 150ml ramekins in a roasting tin. Beat the egg yolks and cornflour together in a medium bowl until combined. Gradually whisk the coconut mixture into the eggs. Pour into the ramekins (they can be almost to the top as the custards will sink slightly when cooked).
Transfer the baking pan to the oven and carefully pour enough boiling water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the custards until the centres are just barely set, 30-35 minutes. Carefully remove the ramekins and let the custards cool to room temperature. Cover the ramekins tightly with cling film and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
Just before serving, remove cling film and blot the top of the custards dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle coarse sugar evenly over the custard; wipe away any sugar on the inside rim of the ramekins. Caramelise with a blow torch or under a grill. Serve sprinkled with toasted coconut.