When I was a kid vanilla meant cheap, bland sweet things without other “proper” flavours in. How wrong can you be?
A few weeks ago in France I had the most exquisite culinary experience in the form of a creme brulee made in heaven, well it tasted like it was, pure ambrosia. Here is the original

These are my first attempts at replication. They were by most standards superb and look very like the photos from the recipe I used. They were sadly not up there with the perfect brulee living in my memory. The bone spoons are perfect.

What was better about the French one? Well mine was a great custard but it didn’t have the same variety of texture as the original, it was all the same where the French one had some almost runny custard and some more set, the topping too was a lovely mix of crunchy, brittle and hard where mine was pretty much a thin sheet of toffee. Texture aside the flavour of mine was not as powerful or fragrant as the original. The recipe used a whole vanilla pod which cost me £2.50 in the supermarket. So next try will involve more vanilla, I  found the wonderful vanilla mart online where vanilla heads can satisfy their every whim and cheap too, 20 pods for £5.50 delivered. So next batch will have two pods in and maybe steeped for longer in the cream until it’s oozing vanilla, I shall get some nice demerara sugar for the top and steep that with another vanilla pod to make vanilla sugar. I am not sure if the wider ramekins help the French version when I have my recipe sorted I would love to find a potter making nice ramekins. I’ll keep you posted and in the meantime if anyone else makes great brulees or has any other fantastic recipes to share let me know.

Author Robin Wood

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