Blackberries grow like a weed in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Everywhere you go there are the serried hedges with their verdant green leaves, spiny sharp branches, and of course, the glistening, smooth, inky black or purple-noted nacre of blackberries. Stroll along country lanes—and as long as you don't fear a few pricks, you'll have buckets upon buckets of blackberries. And then the question becomes, what will you actually do with all of them?
There are the conventional options, of course: turning them into jam or perhaps baking them into a pie or the famous blackberry cobbler that pops up time and time again in cooking festivals in the Northwest.
But what if you want to get a bit more imaginative? Crème brûlée is what crossed my mind—combining the sharpness and wildness of blackberries with the creamy fruitiness of bananas.
It's so simple to make, too! Crème brûlée, probably because of the French name, sounds like it might be a dreadfully difficult dish, but making it is really very simple. The only real drudgery in this recipe is the process of pushing the blackberries through a sieve so that the seeds don't ruin the wonderful silky smoothness of the crème brûlée. Once you've done that, it's just a simple custard, an hour in the oven, some cooling, and then the caramelization of a layer of delicate sugar to create a hard, crunchy layer on top.
This recipe is entirely my own.
- 2 cups + a few for garnish blackberries
- 2 bananas, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup + 6 tablespoons sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a blender or food processor, combine the bananas and the blackberries. Blend until they are a smooth liquid.
- Add the heavy cream and mix. Pour this through a sieve into a medium-sized saucepan on the stovetop to extract the blackberry seeds (discard the seeds afterward). Add in the milk, and bring the liquid to a low boil over medium heat.
- Simultaneously, in a medium-sized heatproof bowl, beat together the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and 1 cup sugar until the mixture is pale, smooth, and drips off in ropes from the blender. Add in a part of the hot cream mixture to temper the eggs so that they won't scramble when placed over the stove top, then pour everything back into the saucepan over the stove.
- Over low heat, bring the liquid to a rolling boil until it starts to thicken and coat the back of a spoon.
- Arrange ramekins in a large baking dish or casserole dish, and fill the dish half way up the ramekins with boiling water (I use an electric tea kettle to heat it). Pour the custard into the ramekins. Put into an oven at 350 degrees F for 60 minutes. If browning starts to occur, turn down the heat to 325 and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes.
- Allow the ramekins to cool; then place into the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. Once chilled, spread the 6 tablespoons sugar evenly on top, scatter some blackberries on top of that, and use an oven torch or a broiler to caramelize the sugar. Serve.