I use a blowtorch to melt and glaze the brûlée sugar topping until it caramelises, but blowtorches are not for the faint-hearted!
- for the coconut crème brûlée:
- 8 egg yolks
- 250 g caster sugar
- seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod (pod also retained)
- 300 ml milk
- 600 ml double cream
- 400 g tin of coconut milk
- for the spun sugar:
- 225 g caster sugar
- 1 tblsp powdered glucose
- Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F/Gas 2). Place the egg yolks in a large bowl with 125g (4oz) of the sugar and the vanilla seeds. Whisk for about 5 minutes until pale and fluffy - if you swirl the whisk through the mixture in a figure-of-eight shape, the mixture should hold the trail.
- Meanwhile, place the milk in a small saucepan with the cream, coconut milk and vanilla pod and simmer gently until the mixture just comes to the boil. Remove the vanilla pod and slowly pour the hot coconut milk into the yolk mixture, whisking continuously. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl.
- Place six 200ml (7fl oz) ramekins in a baking tin filled with enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. This is called a 'bain marie'. Using a ladle, divide the mixture between the ramekins and then cover the tin tightly with foil. Bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes until just set but still with a slight wobble in the middle.
- Remove from the oven and leave in the bain marie, still covered with foil, for another 30 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely. Transfer to the fridge and allow to set for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight.
- About half an hour before serving, place the sugar, glucose and 250ml (9fl oz) of water into a small, heavy-based saucepan. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the mixture turns a golden caramel colour. The sugar syrup should have a thick honey consistency and should not be too runny. It will thicken a little as it cools, but if it gets too thick, simply heat again and it will quickly loosen.
- Using a small, clean, metal spoon and a knife-sharpening steel, dip the spoon into the caramel and lift it out again, then twist it around the steel to create some sugar curls, working very carefully as the caramel will be extremely hot. Remove the curls from the steel once they are cool and hardened.
- Sprinkle the remaining caster sugar over the brûlées in an even layer, and use a blowtorch to melt and glaze the sugar until it caramelises. Place the ramekins on plates to serve and decorate with the spun sugar curls.
Neven's tip: You can place the brûlées under a hot grill, but watch them like a hawk because they burn easily. When glazed, they should be a nice mahogany brown colour. The spun sugar curls are a lovely finishing touch, but feel free to leave them out if you're nervous or short on time. Powdered glucose is available from most chemists.