Hina Khan is an absolute foodie and this is a fact. The actress is currently holidaying in Maldives and indulging in some of most delicious food. Through her Instagram stories, she has been showing her culinary adventure and we are excited.
Remember that time when everyone from Bandra just moved to the Maldives? Bastian really must have suffered a severe dip in revenue during those dark days. Celebrities across lists seem to be spreading their wings a bit wider and farther now – yes, we see your London and New York winter lewks – and we are very happy for them. Really. Just like we are happy for Hina Khan, who is giving us a bit of a throwback by vacationing at The Standard resort in the Maldives.
While Hina, TV royalty and girl from the hills (did you know she grew up in Srinagar?), has been enjoying the Maldives, what we have been eyeing has been the food she’s been eating. Tacos, crabs, and fries, oh my! But it was the dessert spread that really caught our attention. It is ‘winter’ after all, and we can afford to put on a few pounds—we can blame it all on layers. Layers are friends. Very understanding and forgiving friends. So, what did Hina’s dessert spread have? The easier question would be, what did it not have?" considering the sheer variety. We saw mini espresso cakes, cool litchi verrines, le petit Antoine, decadent chocolate tarts, trifles with kiwi fruit, and an all-spiced crème brûlée, which, by the looks of it, was the favorite at the dessert bar already overflowing with options.
A good crème brûlée can really elevate your meal experience by several notches. And a bad one—you know, the very dense, very eggy kind? —can really put a dampener on the proceedings and leave, literally, a bad taste in your mouth. Needless to say, we at Slurrp are forever in search of a good one. @ us if you think you have options.
Perhaps because of the French-ness of it all and the several accent marks that appear in crème brûlée, we just assumed for the longest time that it was an ancient recipe perfected over time, clothed in history, burnished in legend, and wrapped in stories. But... not really. Sure, an early version of the recipe appears in a 1691 French cookbook. And another version of a similar recipe appears in Spanish in an older Catalan cookbook. In 1740, a similar concoction was recognized as crême à l'Angloise, or "English cream," raising further questions about its source. In 1879, Trinity College, Cambridge—whose famous alumni include Newton, Nehru, Nabokov, and yes, Rahul Gandhi—introduced the dessert as "Trinity Cream" or "Cambridge burnt cream" with the college's insignia imprinted onto the top of the cream with a branding iron.
But the recipe wasn’t really what it is now. For example, it wasn't until the 1980s that a French cookbook contained a recipe for crème brûlée. The reason for the boom could squarely be placed at the feet of and in the kitchen of Sirio Maccioni at New York’s Le Cirque. The NYC Le Cirque may no longer exist, but it does have several branches around the world, in the Leelas in India, for example. And it was at the OG one that crème brûlée saw its revival. It was the 1980s—a time of decadence, a time depicted so well in The Bonfire of the Vanities. And in came crème brûlée again. Maccioni was so pleased with the resurgence of the dessert that he claimed to have made it "the most famous and by far the most popular dessert in restaurants from Paris to Peoria."
But what we really want to know is if it is possible to make one at home. Sure, a blow torch is not exactly your usual kitchen staple, but let’s say you have one for whatever reason—is it then possible to make one? Well, it is. Which is why this recipe below. Which, in fact, famously does not even need a propane torch. Your oven’s broiler is enough. So, what we want to know is if you managed to make a successful one. Odds are, you won't go wrong with this recipe. But those are often famous last words.
Crème brûlée – recipe for a home cook (by Mark Bittman)
Makes four servings
Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a saucepan, combine cream, vanilla bean, and salt; cook over low heat just until hot. Let sit for a few minutes, then discard the vanilla bean. (If using vanilla extract, add it now.)
In a bowl, beat the yolks and sugar together until light. Stir about a quarter of the cream into this mixture, then pour the sugar-egg mixture into the cream and stir. Pour into four 6-ounce ramekins (small ceramic bakeware for single-serve desserts) and place ramekins in a baking dish; fill the dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the centers are barely set. Cool completely. Refrigerate for a few hours or up to a few days.
When ready to serve, top each custard with about a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer. Place ramekins in a broiler 2 to 3 inches from the heat source. Turn on the broiler. Cook until the sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes. Serve within two hours.
If all this fails, we can make like Hina Khan and head to The Standard at the Maldives to see if the all-spiced crème brûlée was all that.