The definition of “sweetness” goes beyond the taste of food; it also includes fond memories in the kitchen, living with joyfully open arms, and creating things steeped in tradition. Christy Jordan’s cookbook, Sweetness (Workman Publishing, 2016), brings all of these ideals together in one place. Already a hugely popular blogger, Jordan has compiled 197 of those favorite and most-searched-for Southern recipes: the sweet ones.
Sweet Potato Crème Brûlée
Until I had my first bite of crème brûlée, I didn’t really understand the difference between a dessert being “rich” and being “sweet.” Crème brûlée is a favorite of mine because it is light on the sweet and decadently heavy on the rich. Most recipes call for making it with a whole vanilla bean. A whole vanilla bean has never once stepped foot inside of my kitchen, so my recipe uses ingredients I have on hand, including bottled vanilla extract.
• nonstick cooking spray
• 2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed
• 1 cup granulated sugar (or Splenda)
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, melted
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 2 large eggs, plus 4 large egg yolks
• 2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/3 cup brown sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat it with cooking spray.
2. Pierce each sweet potato a few times with a fork, place them on the prepared baking sheet, and bake until soft when pierced with a paring knife, about 1 hour. Allow to cool completely.
3. Meanwhile, turn the oven down to 325 degrees F. Coat an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
4. Peel the sweet potatoes and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar, the butter, the cinnamon, and the 2 eggs and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread the sweet potato mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish and set aside.
5. Place the cream, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, the 4 egg yolks, and the vanilla in a medium-size, heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir well. Place over medium-low heat and cook, whisking constantly, until just warm, about 5 minutes (it will be very runny). Using a measuring cup, gently scoop up the custard mixture and pour it evenly over the sweet potatoes.
6. Place the baking dish in the center of a larger baking dish. Pour water into the larger baking dish to reach a depth of 1 inch up the sides of the smaller one.
7. Bake until a knife inserted in the center of the custard comes out clean, about 1 hour. Carefully remove the smaller baking dish and place it on a heavy dish towel or wire rack to cool. Once cool, cover it with aluminum foil and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, or overnight.
8. Shortly before you’re ready to serve, remove the custard from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to a high broil.
9. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top of the custard and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil, about 5 inches from the heat, until the sugar is mostly melted and forms a thin coat across the top of the dish, 5 to 7 minutes. Allow to cool until the sugar hardens, about 5 minutes.
Sweet Potato Crème Brûlée will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for 1 to 2 days.
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Reprinted with permission from Sweetness: Southern Recipes to Celebrate the Warmth, the Love, and the Blessings of a Full Life by Christy Jordan, published by Workman Publishing, 2016.