This custard is not as thick as a classic French crème brûlée, but is more like the Spanish version, crema catalana. Be sure the custard gets thick enough—it's worth the effort.
Servings: Makes 6 servings
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup raw cane sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean , halved horizontally
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups sweet potato juice (see Note below)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Grated fresh nutmeg to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon
  • Directions
    In a small saucepan, combine the milk, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Do not let the milk boil. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Reserve the vanilla bean for another use.

    Put the egg yolks in a double boiler and gradually whisk in the hot milk. Stir in the sweet potato juice and salt. Add the nutmeg.

    Cook over simmering water for 30 minutes, stirring constantly, until the custard is as thick as soft pudding.

    Preheat the oven to 300°F.

    Strain the thickened custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Ladle into six 8-ounce ramekins. Set the ramekins in a roasting pan and add hot water to come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake one the center rack of the oven for 30 minutes, or until set but not completely firm in the center.

    Remove from the oven and let the ramekins cool on wire racks. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours, or until thoroughly chilled.

    Preheat the broiler, or plan to use a kitchen blowtorch.

    Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the remaining cane sugar over each chilled custard. Slide the dishes under the broiler so that they are about 3 inches from the heat source and broil for about one minute, or run the blowtorch slowly over the sugar to melt and caramelize it. Watch carefully to prevent the sugar from burning.

    Heat the bourbon in a small saucepan over medium heat just until warm. Pour one teaspoon bourbon over each custard and ignite it with a match. Serve immediately.

    Note: When you juice fruits and vegetables, buy more than you think you will need. Wash the sweet potatoes under cold running water. Scrub them lightly with a coarse pad or brush (there's no need to peel), then place in a juicer. To yield one cup of juice, you'll need about 1 1/4 pound of sweet potatoes.

    From the book Taste Pure and Simple

    For more from Michel Nischan, visit his website:


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