A tart compote of rhubarb makes a nice contrast to this rich custard. While there is no way to completely streamline a crème brûlée, this special-occasion treat is lightened by the fruit and its use of less egg yolk and cream (which is reduced-fat to boot), yet still retains its rich indulgent nature.
250 g rhubarb, chopped
juice of ½ orange
⅓ cup (75 g) caster sugar, or to taste
1 cup (250 ml) low-fat milk
2 pinches of saffron threads
4 medium egg yolks
1 whole medium egg
¼ cup (60 ml) light thickened cream
¼ cup (50 g) demerara sugar
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Preheat the oven to 160°C. Put the rhubarb in a heavy-based saucepan with the orange juice and ¼ cup (55 g) of the caster sugar. Poach over a medium–low heat for 5–7 minutes or until the fruit is tender and juicy, but still keeps its shape. Leave to cool.
To make the custard, heat the milk with the remaining caster sugar and the saffron in a heavy-based saucepan until bubbles appear around the edge. In a bowl, beat together the egg yolks, whole egg and thickened cream. Slowly add the hot sweetened saffron milk to the egg mixture, stirring to mix well.
Divide the rhubarb compote among six 150 ml ramekins. To ladle the custard mixture over the fruit, place the base of the ladle on top of the fruit and turn it slowly to gently ease in the custard (if you pour the custard into the ramekins, it will mix with the rhubarb and will not form two separate layers).
Place the ramekins in a large roasting tin. Pour boiling water into the tin to come about two-thirds up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 25 minutes or until set.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until quite cold.
Preheat the grill to high. Sprinkle 2 tsp of the demerara sugar on top of each custard and smooth it with your finger so that it forms an even layer. Grill close to the heat until the sugar melts and bubbles, keeping a close watch on it so that it does not burn. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes or until the sugar has hardened to a crust. Serve.
Some more ideas…
Instead of rhubarb, use 1 large green apple, peeled, cored and chopped, and ⅔ cup (85 g) raspberries.
• Rhubarb is 94 per cent water and, compared with soft fruit and citrus fruit, contains very little vitamin C. However, it does provide vitamin A – the same amount as peaches – which is essential for healthy skin and good vision. • Apart from providing protein, eggs also contain useful amounts of vitamins A, B2, B12, niacin and E.