When I first read this — in Grammy’s scrawl in her “Guests and Menus” book — I thought I was looking at a bad spelling of “creme brulee,” the creamy custard with a crunchy browned-sugar crust. I was not. The French verb “brouiller,” to mix up or to scramble, has nothing to do with blowtorches and caramelizing sugar. It has everything to do with creating a mind-blowingly rich pudding of mixed-up cream and eggs.
Grammy got her “Guests and Menus” book in 1974; my parents brought the red, pebbled-leather volume back from London. By then, Grammy was 74 and had been widowed for a decade. Did that cramp her entertaining style? Not at all. The table-layouts in the book show dinners for 14 or 16, luncheons for 10, cocktail parties for dozens.
This dessert was listed several times on the “menus” side of the page. After making it, I can see why: It is dead easy, yet tastes complicated, rich and fancy.
Think ice cream — but not cold. Or vanilla pudding — but no actual vanilla in there. You end up with a pudding topped with sliced or mashed fruit. As you serve the pudding — particularly if you’re using a big bowl rather than individual ramekins — everything shifts around into a creamy-fruity smoosh.
After serving this dish in winter with frozen fruit, I could see a parade of creme brouilles to celebrate the fruits of summer as they come into high season. Start with strawberries, move to raspberries, blackberries, marionberries if you live out west. Sliced peaches, with a bit of lemon juice. Blueberries probably do not have the oomph for this — not enough acid to stand up to the cream.
And if we could get passionfruit to look less weird, wow, that would be a perfect partner. Someone fix that, would you?
Strawberry Creme Brouille
You can use frozen strawberries or other frozen fruit; just thaw, then crush or slice as needed. If your frozen fruit is already sweetened, don’t add more sugar.
Serves 6 to 8
- 2 cups cream (I used heavy cream)
- 4 eggs
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Pinch salt
- 1 quart ripe strawberries, washed
- 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
Begin to heat cream over medium heat in a double boiler. In a large measuring cup or bowl with spout, thoroughly beat together eggs, sugar and salt. Whisking constantly, pour egg mixture into warming cream. Continue whisking or beating mixture with an egg beater for 5 minutes over heat. Remove pan from heat and let mixture cool slightly. When not hot, pour into individual ramekins or a large glass bowl. Put into refrigerator for at least one hour.
Hull and slice or crush strawberries into a medium bowl; mix in sugar. When cream has chilled, remove from fridge and cover top of cream with the crushed strawberries.
Recipe and photograph copyright 2010 Garside Group LLC. All rights reserved.