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Sweet Potato Crème Brûlée

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Serves 6

  • To learn more, read:
    Sweet on Sweet Potatoes
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 143

Sweet potato adds subtle depth and gorgeous color to classic crème brûlée.

  • 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar; more for serving
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1 cup cooked, well-mashed sweet potatoes (from 1 large)
Tip:
Boil, bake, or microwave whole, unpeeled sweet potatoes before mashing for this recipe. You can also substitute canned sweet potatoes; just pour off the syrup and rinse before mashing; though the color may be lighter, the flavor is close to home-cooked. One 29-oz. can of sweet potato chunks yields about 2-1/4 cups mashed.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Put 6 shallow 4-oz. crème brûlée dishes or ramekins in one large or two small roasting pans. Bring a kettle of water to a boil. In a 3-quart saucepan, bring the cream to a bare simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and salt until combined. Whisking slowly so as not to over-aerate, add 1/2 cup of the warm cream to the egg mixture. Slowly whisk in the rest of the cream, then the sweet potatoes, until combined.

Divide the mixture among the ramekins. Pull out the oven rack and place the roasting pan on the  rack. Carefully pour the hot water from the kettle into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the custards are set and firm around the edges with a little jiggle in the center, 30 to 40 minutes.

With tongs or a spatula, carefully transfer the ramekins to a rack to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.

Just before serving, sprinkle one of the custards evenly with 2 to 3 tsp. sugar. (The more sugar, the thicker and darker the crust will be.) Pass a kitchen torch over the surface until the sugar melts and caramelizes. Repeat with the remaining custards. Allow the sugar to cool and harden briefly, then serve.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 510, Fat Calories (kcal): 310, Fat (g): 35, Saturated Fat (g): 20, Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11, Cholesterol (mg): 325, Sodium (mg): 150, Carbohydrates (g): 45, Fiber (g): 1, Sugar (g): 40, Protein (g): 5

Photo: Scott Phillips

Made this recipe for Thanksgiving, using regular ramekins rather than the wide, shallow ones and bake time was just over the high end recommended. I did puree the sweet potato thoroughly, but the texture of the creme brulee was still a bit "off"/grainy. Perhaps running the puree through a sieve would have helped. The color was attractive for the holiday but there wasn't a pronounced sweet potato flavor, more a slight "vegetable" note. Perhaps a little nutmeg and cinnamon would help here as well. We both agreed it was more "breakfasty" than dessert. I don't think we'll make it again.

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