Raspberry Crème Brûlées

Although this dessert does take a bit of effort, it’s definitely worth it, because the end result is utterly luxurious – rich, vanilla-scented custard topped with crisp brown sugar, and then the deep, boozy flavour of raspberries and a dash of port at the bottom.

250ml double cream
40g granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 vanilla pod
Brown sugar
100g fresh raspberries
A splash of port

You will also need 2 ovenproof ramekins

Makes 2 individual crème brûlées

Preheat the oven to 150˚C (140˚C fan). Combine the double cream and sugar in a small saucepan, add the vanilla pod, and stir gently on a medium heat until all the sugar has dissolved and plenty of steam is rising from the pan. By the way, although vanilla pods can be expensive, it’s worth buying a couple because they can actually be reused. Just wipe them off well and allow to dry completely before putting back in the jar for next time – if you don’t split them and remove the seeds, you should be able to get two or three uses out of each one.

Next, separate the eggs (you don’t need the whites for this recipe, but you could always use them to make my Lemon Meringue if you don’t want them to go to waste). In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale and frothy, then remove the vanilla pod and slowly add the cream mixture to the eggs, two tablespoons at a time, whisking all the time. It’s really important to do this bit slowly and gradually so that the mixture doesn’t curdle. Once it’s all combined, allow the mixture to cool slightly.

Pop enough raspberries into the ramekins to cover the base in a single layer, then sprinkle with sugar and a small dash of port (don’t go overboard or the whole thing will be quite sloppy in the end). Use the back of a fork to crush the fruit slightly and compact it into a flat layer.

Next, take your deepest roasting tin and place the two ramekins inside. Carefully pour in the custard mixture so there’s at least 1 cm of space left at the top of each ramekin. Then fill the roasting tin with boiling water – not so deep so that you can’t move it safely, but enough that it comes at least a third to half of the way up the outside of the ramekins. Move the tin to the oven and bake for 50 minutes, until the custard is set (a slight wobble in the middle is ok).

When the timer goes, remove the ramekins and put them to one side, to cool, and tip away the boiling water. Once they’ve cooled enough that you can pick them up with your bare hands, pop them in the fridge to cool for an hour or so.

When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle the tops of the puddings with brown sugar and either melt the sugar with a little chef’s blowtorch, or place them under the grill for a few minutes – watch them carefully if you do this, to make sure the sugar doesn’t burn. If you’re feeling particularly indulgent, serve with a little whipped cream – heavenly.