Creation begins with an explosion of flavours in the world of cooking when one food is paired with another in perfect harmony. I always try to experiment with such kind of combinations whenever I happen to stumble upon some exotic food. One such food is the jack fruit which I grew up eating as a child. I always pick up these exotic tropical fruits from our local indian store whenever they are available and enjoy them.
This time my imagination ran wild and I wanted to make a dessert by pairing it with something equally exotic and aromatic. I could not think of anything but the coconut which is so versatile. So to test I immediately took a small bit of the jack fruit and mixed it with a teaspoon of coconut milk and tasted it. My God, it was heavenly! The taste was euphoric and divine!
I could not rest but think of a dessert which could retain and enhance the aromatic flavours of the tropical world. Crème brûlée fitted well in my equation. The refined french technique of the bain-marie provided the rightful conditions for cooking the dessert gently with uniform heat around it thus resulting in a custard with soft, smooth and silky texture which was exactly what I was looking for.
The brand of coconut milk “A Taste of Thai” was creamy enough to substitute for the rich whipping cream we often use in making crème brûlée. I blended the jack fruit with the coconut milk and then whisked in the egg yolks and sugar. The bain-marie did the rest. The flavours were amazing and the texture was silky smooth.
The coconut milk I always use is 85% coconut milk extract and 15% water from “A Taste of Thai”. My second choice is Aroy-D which has 65% coconut milk extract and the rest water. Both have no preservatives or guar gum which changes the texture of the coconut milk by making it sticky. I never use any other brand and if these above brands are not available I end up extracting the coconut milk from scratch.
1 X 238ml can jack fruit
2 cups coconut milk (A Taste of Thai brand)
1/3 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
4 teaspoons sugar (pour bruler)
1. Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees Centigrade. Take the jack fruit pulp from the can after discarding the syrup and rinse in tap water. Using a blender first blend it to a paste then add the 2 cups of thick and creamy coconut milk by pouring through the spout slowly till you get a smooth and creamy texture. Do not over blend as the coconut creme in the milk might turn into coconut butter.
2. Break open the eggs and separate the whites from the yolks. Reserve the whites to use later for something else.
3. Whisk the egg yolks with the 1/3 cup of sugar well.
4. Add the jack fruit coconut mixture to the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk well to get a smooth blend.
5. Pour this mixture in the ramekins and set them in a bain-marie (water bath) which helps in absorbing the heat and distributing it gently and evenly around the custard. You could do this by placing the ramekins in a roasting pan at least 2 inches apart from each other.
6. Then pour boiling water into the roasting pan till it reaches two thirds of the ramekins. Care should be taken not to splash the water into the ramekins.
7. Bake for 28 – 30 minutes (mine took 30 minutes) till the sides are set and the centre is a bit jiggly when you shake them.
8. Remove the roasting pan carefully from the oven wearing gloves. Then transfer the ramekins to a cooling rack with the help of tongs.
9. Allow them to cool completely for 2 hours. Then cover lightly with plastic wrap and put them in the fridge to chill.
10. Sprinkle a teaspoon of very fine sugar over the chilled custard after wiping the sides and dabbing the centre lightly to remove extra moisture. You could use a blow torch to scorch the top layer which is actually the conventional way. But since I don not have it I used the broiler method instead. The result was good enough.
11. Wrap the ramekin with tin foil and place it under the broiler and set it on high. When it turns brown remove it immediately unwrap the tin foil and place it in a bowl of cold water with ice for 5 minutes before serving.
12. The top of the custard becomes hard and crunchy and you would hear a sound when you tap it with a teaspoon and when you serve, the top layer should be warm and crunchy but the custard inside should be cold, smooth and creamy. Enjoy!
In spite of the pulpy fibrous texture of the jackfruit the crème brûlée had a smooth silky finish and melted in the mouth. The combined flavour of the jack fruit and coconut was amazing and the taste was just divine!