Crème brûlée was always one of my favorite desserts. There’s no reason that is has to be something you eat only on the rare occasions you find a restaurant that offers a vegan one. The lavender in this dessert comes from both dried lavender flowers and lavender essential oil. Hate lavender? Replace the lavender with finely minced orange zest, saffron, crushed pistachios, rosewater, or any other fun fancy ingredient you love. The custard is thickened by the magical power of agar-agar, a sea vegetable that has gelatin-like thickening powers.
This dessert requires the use of a blowtorch. Miniature butane torches for making crème brûlée are available at any good restaurant or cooking-supply shop, or (like us) you can use a real industrial blowtorch, the kind used for sweating pipes.
© 2020 Adam Sobel / Other · Reproduced with permission.
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In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the coconut milk, the ¹⁄³ cup of evaporated cane juice, the maple syrup, vanilla beans, lavender flowers, lavender oil, and salt. Whisking occasionally, bring the mixture to a boil, then add the agar-agar and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, to let the custard thicken. Evenly divide the hot custard into 8 ramekins (about ²⁄³ cup in each). Chill the ramekins for at least 3 hours and up to 2 days to set.
To serve, working with one serving at a time, evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the remaining evaporated cane juice over the surface of each custard, trying to avoid getting sugar onto the rim of the ramekin itself. With a butane torch, flame the surface, using constant circular motions, to form a brown caramelized surface.