Home Craft How to Make a Perfect Tomato Crème Brûlée

How to Make a Perfect Tomato Crème Brûlée

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Don’t be afraid of a little char. A little char is good.
Photo: Amanda Blum

“Crème brûlée Slut” will be the title of my biography. The thing is, even not-so-awesome crème brûlée is still reasonably delicious. It’s hard to screw up when you throw cream and sugar together. I order it when I’m out because I’ve led my life under the misconception that it’s hard to make at home, but it’s also completely plausible my brain created that narrative so I don’t stay home, bingeing on crème brûlée and old TV shows. But last month, when my kitchen counters could not be accessed unless I cleared them of tomatoes, I had an idea: tomato crème brûlée.

Crème brûlée is a custard that you top with sugar, then melt (burn) that sugar in order to form a crust. What’s left is a glass-like sugar surface you break with a spoon, and underneath? Silky, smooth custard.

There are a few ways to make the custard, and I tried three popular recipes with similar results. The simplest was from Sally’s, so that’s what I’d use moving forward, but you can grab any recipe out there and modify it for tomatoes.

The key to making the tomato work is to really strain it. You need it to be as smooth as humanly possible. Start with a pound of ripe tomatoes and chop them and blend them. We’re looking for Vitamix levels of blending. Pass it through a strainer, as fine as you have. Now reduce the tomatoes over a low heat until they’re reduced in volume by half.

Make the recipe according to the recipe linked above, but blend the tomatoes and the heavy cream together before you even start the recipe. Once you’ve blended them, strain them again before you start cooking the cream.

Photo: Amanda Blum

The resulting crème brûlée will have a delightful pink color, with a creamy texture, but that slight hint of tomato acidity and a light scent of vanilla. It’ll keep in the fridge without the sugar crust for a few days, so you can spread the joy of the brûlée out over a week. The combination of vanilla, cream, tomato, and sugar is too rich for summer, but exactly what you need to dive into fall.


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