I am cashing in on my promise to you all. Remember I had promised to share that perfect dessert I got a chance to make in the pastry kitchen on my last trip to Dubai? Here it is - well a part of it. See the dessert was a trio, a trio of crème brûlée and this was just one of the flavors - lime.
I know I am a tease. You know I am a tease, so you should also know by now that my playful teasing games are really worth it in the end.
I promised you a exquisite dessert and I am delivering you one third of it. But as you can see this one third is a perfect whole dessert in it's own. I actually splashed out on a new kitchen appliance just for this series of crème brûlée - a new Chefflamme Food Torch!
A creamy and citrusy lime crème brûlée. It really does not get better than that. OK - it does - when you have three incredibly flavored crème brûlées to indulge in.
I decided to go with the lime crème brûlée first for many reasons. First being I am currently totally in love with lemony/limey flavored desserts. There is something refreshing about experiencing that tangy, tart yet sweet on your tongue. How can I describe it best? Let me try!
Tangy so that your face is just on the verge of scrunching up but the sweetness hinders that real scrunch yet the tartness makes your tongue pop into a burst of flavors literally making your mouth water.
Ever experience that when enjoying a citrus dessert or cake? If you have no idea what I am on about well now you have the perfect opportunity to try it out for yourself. This dessert is all what I described above and a little bit more. The smooth cream and the crack of the sugary caramel takes the experience up another level.
My second reason to go with the lime flavored crème brûlée was simply because Helen chose the Citrus theme for this month's Sugar High Friday. Like her my affinity for citrus flavored desserts and sweets runs right next to my chocolate craze. So, there was no way I was going to miss out on this one.
I love limes more than anything. They lend a wonderful aroma to any dish. I find the zest zestier and the juice more refreshing than lemons. On many occasions I will substitute limes with lemons.
Limes are the smallest of the citrus family and their flavor is stronger and more tart than lemons. Generally limes are either round or oval in shape and often have a bright green to dark green colored skin. Limes are picked when they are still green and before they completely mature. As they do mature you will notice they turn more yellowish. This color also indicates that they have lost their fresh tart flavor.
There are several varieties of limes available. Sweet or sour, oval or round, seeds or seedless - all have one thing in common, they are a powerhouse of vitamin C.
Limes are often used not only in sweet dishes but are commonly used to add a zest to savory dishes too. Limes can be used similarly to lemons, but as they are stronger in flavor, smaller amounts are required. Lime juice and zest enhances the flavors of fruits, vegetables and salads and add a fresh tart flavor to baked goods and desserts. Limes are also often used in several popular cocktails like mojitos or caipirinha.
You can already see what fun limes can be and how versatile they are. But did you know this:
- The high content of vitamin C in limes provides health related benefits.
- Lemons and limes were used back in the 18th century on British Navy ships to prevent and treat scurvy among the sailors.
- Limes are used as an ingredient in suntan products, cosmetics, perfumes and other beauty products.
- Lime juice is also used as a cleaning agent.
Limes are available throughout the year, their peak season however, is May through October. Key limes are not readily available as the Tahitian limes. They are often only found seasonally or in specialty markets.
Selecting and Storing
When shopping for limes select those that are bright green in color and have a shine to their skin. But be careful as often they have been coated with wax, which also gives them a shine. They should feel firm and heavy for their size, because heavy limes will produce the most juice. Select limes with thin skins and avoid the thicker skinned fruit, which is an indication of less flesh and juice.
Also avoid limes that are pale green and are showing signs of yellowing, which indicates the limes are getting close to being fully ripe. Fully ripe limes have lost their acidity and will be bland in flavor compared to bright green tart limes. Select those that are fairly smooth skinned, free of blemishes and do not have soft or hard spots. If the limes have small brown spots it does not indicate that there is a lose of juiciness or flavor. However, if the limes are mostly brown in color, that may be an indication of scald, which will cause the fruit to have a moldy flavor. Avoid limes with shriveled skin or that feel spongy, which is a sign of old fruit that will have lost a lot of its juiciness.
Limes perish the quickest from all of the citrus fruits. Therefore, it is important that they are stored properly. Fresh limes can be stored at room temperature for up to a week if kept out of the direct sunlight. If they are not going to be used within a week, place them in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator where they will stay fresh for 2 weeks. After this period, they may not be spoiled but they will begin to lose their tart flavor. If limes have been cut open, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
If you have leftover fresh squeezed juice, you can store it in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Lime juice and zest can be stored for longer period of time by freezing them. Whole limes cannot be frozen.
To freeze lime zest, place the grated zest in an airtight freezer bag or container and store in the freezer.
My favorite tip: to freeze lime juice pour into ice cube trays until solid, then place in airtight freezer bags or containers and store in the freezer.
There are several varieties of limes some more readily available than others.
Key Limes - are often referred to as the true lime. It is smaller and rounder than the more common Persian limes and is yellowish green in color. Key limes have a more acidic flavor than the Tahitian varieties of limes. A well use for key limes is the popular key lime pie. Key limes are generally about the size of a golf ball or smaller. They are grown in Florida and are not always available, generally found in specialty markets and some supermarkets. They are also referred to as Mexican or West Indian limes.
Palestine Sweet Limes - are a sweet variety lime and have a yellow rind that contains aromatic oil. It lacks acidity and contains very few seeds. Although the flesh is very juicy it however, lacks in taste due to the absence of any acidity. This lime is popular in the Middle East and India.
Tahitian Bearss Lime - is a Tahitian lime that is slightly smaller but similar to the Tahitian Persian lime. It is greenish yellow when ripe but is harvested to be sold when it is still green because the acidity level is higher, which provides a better flavor. It is oval in shape and seedless. Tahitian limes have a fairly thin rind and their flesh is pale green and juicy.
Tahitian Persian Lime - is also a Tahitian variety lime that is slightly larger than Tahitian Bearss lime. When ripe it is greenish yellow in color but, just like the Bearss Lime, it is harvested to be sold when it is still green as the acidity level is higher, which provides better flavor. This variety is found most commonly in food stores.
For this crème brûlée use the freshest limes you can find. If you get your hands on Key limes use them for wonderful tart flavor. I used the zest of fresh organic Tahitian Persian Limes and was very pleased with the results.
The recipe I got from the pastry chef was for about a thousand! Not surprising - so I had to do a bit of math to reduce it to a portion of 4. Furthermore, when making desserts in a large kitchens some ingredients are very different to those available in normal supermarkets. I readjusted those ingredients and used fresh items available to most of us. I hope that when you try this dessert you too will be blown away like I was.
Printable version of recipe here.
50 ml fresh milk
300g heavy whipping cream
Zest of 2-3 organic limes
100g + 40g fine brown sugar
4 egg yolks
In a saucepan bring the milk, cream and lime zest to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to steep for about 20-30 minutes.
Whisk together the egg yolks with 100g fine brown sugar. Add a few tablespoons of the warm cream mixture to temper the eggs, whisking all along. Once the eggs have warmed to the same temperature, pour the cream mixture in a stead stream into the eggs. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 150 degrees C. Prepare your ramekin or crème brûlée forms by placing them in a larger ovenproof dish. Bring a tea kettle filled with water to a boil and pour into the ovenproof dish so that the water level just reaches about 3/4 of the forms.
You can either pour the cream-egg mixture straight into the forms with the lime zest or strain the liquid beforehand. This depends on your own personal taste. I prefer straining the liquid for extra smoothness.
Place the entire dish into the oven and bake for approx. 45 minutes. Take out and place in the refrigerator overnight. The overnight resting period was highly recommended by the pastry chef. I agree completely as I too learned that one achieves better results with the crème brûlée when it has had a resting period in the fridge.
Shortly before serving sprinkle 40g brown sugar over the cream and using a gas torch caramelize the sugar. If you do not have a gas torch then heat the grill of your oven and place the forms as close to the hot wires as you can. Keep a close eye on them and take them out as soon as the sugar melts and begins to caramelize. I recommend the gas torch and it gives the best results. Crème brûlées are served cold and by placing them in the oven causes the cream to heat up again.
Allow the sugar to turn hard and serve.
For more tips on how to make the perfect crème brûlée check out my Cooking School edition of Crème brûlées. You will not only find another crème brûlée variety but also detailed step by step instructions of how to make the perfect crème brûlée. Furthermore, there are plenty of useful tips for those who are venturing into brûléeing for the first time.
The first time I tasted the lime brûlée at the hotel my dad works at, it was an explosive experience. Once I got my hands on the recipe I could hardly wait to make it. At home I had to deviate slightly from the original recipe, but the results I got were equally exquisite. Creamy with just the right amount of zesty flavor. This is the perfect type of refreshing dessert after a summery barbeque. Now please do not say I do not keep my promises. The other two flavors will follow soon - I promise! LOL!
Sending this to Helen with all my hugs and best wishes for her birthday!
You might enjoy these zesty citrus creations too:
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