Use leftover fruitcake or Christmas pudding as a base for these brulees. Aromatic blood oranges make a perfect accompaniment, but if they are not in season, use any variety of orange.
Make Ahead: The baked brulees need to be refrigerated for 3 hours.
- For the brulees
- 1 vanilla bean
- 13 ounces heavy (whipping) cream (1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons)
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 1/2 ounces superfine sugar (1/3 cup)
- 5 1/2 ounces fruitcake, diced (about 1 1/3 cups)
- 1/4 cup Demerara sugar
- For the oranges
- 3 blood oranges (see headnote)
- 1/2 cup Demerara sugar
- 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
- 3 cardamom pods, crushed
- 3 whole cloves
- 3 star anise
- One 3-inch cinnamon stick
- 1/2 cup red wine
For the brulees: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Have six 6-ounce ramekins at hand.
Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and place the seeds and pod in a small saucepan with the cream. Heat over medium-high heat to just below the boiling point, stirring occasionally.
While the cream is heating, whisk the egg yolks and superfine sugar in a medium bowl until they are thick and pale, about 5 minutes.
Remove the vanilla pod from the hot cream; gradually pour the cream over the egg mixture, whisking continuously to avoid coagulating the egg.
Divide the fruitcake among the ramekins. Pour the cream and egg mixture over the fruitcake. Line a roasting pan with a kitchen towel and set the ramekins in the pan. Pour in enough hot water to come three-quarters of the way up the side of the ramekins. Cover the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes or until the mixture has almost set. Remove the ramekins from the pan and allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours to chill thoroughly.
For the oranges: Peel the oranges and cut them crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
Heat the demerara sugar in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, anise and cinnamon stick; cook for 3 or 4 minutes, until the sugar has melted and turned a golden caramel color. Add the orange slices and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the orange slices to a medium dish. Bring the liquid in the skillet to a boil and cook until it is thick and syrupy, about 15 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Spoon the cooled liquid over the orange slices, cover and refrigerate.
To serve, sprinkle the brulees evenly with the demerara sugar. Either fire with a culinary torch or place briefly under the broiler until the sugar is golden and caramelized. Serve with the chilled blood oranges. Discard the syrup and whole spices.
Adapted from "The Modern Vegetarian," by Maria Elia (Kyle, 2012).
Tested by Sarah Meyer Walsh.
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