February is a dark and dank month in Burgundy. Images of sun-dappled vineyards and hazy evenings are a long and distant memory, replaced by dense immovable fog, mud and chilling damp.
Any sign of spring is still a long way off and so I find my comfort in bed, by the fire or in the kitchen. This is a time of year for hearty stews and slow roasts that fill the house with warmth and fine smells.
Further south in Europe they are lucky and citrus fruit is starting to become available and in late February oranges from Seville brighten up our markets.
Inspired by these welcome addition to an otherwise uninspiring trip to the local market, here is a recipe for a Grand Marnier Creme Caramel with a Kumquat marmalade. With a mirror-smooth caramel topping, velvet texture and zesty marmalade, this easily prepared desert is welcome as a warm afternoon and hints at better times to come.
- 6 large egg yolks
- 10 tablespoons caster sugar
- 2.5 cups double cream
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
- 1 vanilla pod
- 6 Kumquats
- 1 star anise
- 4 table spoons sugar
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Whisk yolks and five spoons of sugar in medium bowl until thick and pale yellow.
2. Add five tablespoons water to a small pan. Add five tablespoons of sugar and stir to dissolved. Cook over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally, until caramel begins to turn amber, 6 to 8 minutes.
3. Working quickly, divide caramel between ramekins, swirling ramekins to coat bottoms evenly, set aside.
4. Add the split vanilla pod to the cream in a heavy saucepan. Bring to simmer stirring gently.
5. Gradually whisk hot cream into yolk mixture. Whisk in Grand Marnier.
6. Divide the custard among the six ramekins.
7. Arrange the ramekins in a deep metal pan. Pour enough hot water into pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins.
8. Bake custards until gently set in the middle, about 25 minutes. Test with a knife and it should come out clean. Remove cups from water and refrigerate uncovered until cold. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.)
9. To serve run a thin knife around the edge of each ramekin. Hold a plate on top and inverse. Give a little shake and voila!
1. Slice the kumquats and thinly as you can and prick out any seeds.
2. In a small pan add 150 ml water and the sugar. Once simmering, add the kumquats and star anise. Simmer until you have a sticky jam. Leave to cool and serve a teaspoon on top of each creme caramel.