When the air is thick, and the heat weighs heavily on you, turning on the oven may be the last thing you have in mind. But sometimes a little heat can produce a cool and delicate dessert worthy of a special occasion.

This dessert is a dichotomy of creamy and crunchy with the luscious fatty feel of custard on your tongue and the crisp crackle of burnt sugar in every bite. Many participants in my cooking classes are often surprised at the ease to prepare the iconic crème brûlée. Its beautiful simplicity and few ingredients make it a popular around the world.

In fact its origin is claimed by more than one country. France, England and Spain all claim to be the first to create this creamy custard with a crisp burnt sugar crust. Whoever first served it is debatable, but most are familiar with its common name crème brûlée which is decidedly french, and means burnt cream.

But the creamy custard is actually not burned. It is the hard sugar top that encases it which makes this a fun treat for all those pyrotechnic fans. Small kitchen torches are fairly inexpensive and fun to use. You can always get out the big gun and use a traditional torch, but you’d have to be careful not to set the crème brûlée or kitchen on fire. You can also just use a broiler to make that crunchy sugar topping we love to crack into when eating a crème brûlée.

To make this dessert a cool summer treat I have added the refreshing tang of citrus.

This week I have included my recipe for Lemon Crème Brûlée.


Cheryl Orr owns the Cotton Gin Inn.