In the few days I had at home last weekend I managed to catch the very beginning of red currant season. Red currants are still fairly uncommon in the US. Astringent and seedy, I can see why they don’t fit in with the sugar-sweet raspberries and mellow blueberries we favor, but I’d like to make a case for them. Firstly, they’re beautiful – translucent globes that shine with red juice. They freeze well – and when frozen they make the most satisfying marble sound as you drop them into a glass bowl. They also add an acidic complexity to otherwise saccharine fruit desserts.
I was worried the currants might be overripe by the time I returned from my trip to Asia. I wanted to make sure I could use at least a few in a new recipe, so I picked the reddest of the bunch. With them (and some frozen ones leftover from last year), I made a Red Currant Crème Brûlée, inspired in equal parts by dinner at ForettaBarinn last week in Iceland, where I had a delicious rhubarb crème brûlée, and by Nigel Slater’s beautiful cookbook, Ripe. Trevor has promised to watch over the rest of the berries and optimize their harvest so that I can enjoy as many as possible when I get back home.
Sometimes when people ask me what my favorite food is, I tell them that it’s cream. This is only partially a joke. Accordingly, crème brûlée is one of my all-time favorite desserts, and it can be very difficult for me to not order it. Luckily (dangerously?) it’s very easy to make at home – just a simple custard of egg, cream, and sugar, gently baked in a bain marie.
This particular crème brûlée – with a layer of homemade red currant jam on the bottom – was exceptional. The sweet, silky smooth custard just barely punctuated by bursts of tart red currant jelly, the crackling burnt sugar crust – it’s more than the sum of its parts, for sure. I only wish I hadn’t inadvertently calculated the nutrition facts when pouring all two cups of lovely cream into the bowl. If I hadn’t known, I would have eaten more.
I didn’t remove the seeds from my homemade red currant jam because I don’t mind them. But if you want a really smooth jam, strain the jelly through a fine mesh strainer after simmering. You can also use store-bought red currant jelly if you don’t have any of your own fresh currants around.
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More Red Currant Recipes…
Red Currant Crumb Bars
Red Currant Kompot
Red Currant Chutney
PrintRed Currant Crème Brûlée
A fruit-on-the-bottom version of Crème Brûlée using a thin layer of homemade red currant jam.
Inspired by Nigel Slater’s Ripe and the crème brûlée at Forettabarinn.
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen red currants, stems removed
- 1 TBS raspberry liqueur
- 2 cups of heavy cream
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 4 large egg yolks