Inspired Recipe: Cardamom Creme Brulee
There are few things I find as satisfying as the crack of a creme brulee. That sharp snap means a lot of things. On the light side, it means you’re about to delve into a pot of sugary, creamy, eggy goodness, or that your next few minutes will be spent savoring shards of burnt sugar and creamy custard. On the flip side, that you’ve broken through a tough surface to claim a sweet reward, that you’ve defeated that hard wall separating you from the essence of the dessert that lurks beneath the cover. In the context of In the Shadow of the Banyan, cardamom creme brulee is a perfect metaphor for the way Raami’s heart closes off as she works and starves.
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Though a classic creme brulee uses vanilla bean, swapping this out for cardamom gives the dessert a warmer, deeper flavor that transports you east. Readers will understand how Raami builds a shell over time, one that hardens and shields her from the world, while simultaneously bottling her emotions and preventing her from feeling. With the first crack, what seeps through is pain, sharp and stinging. Soon enough, though, more cracks follow and she depressurizes, allowing her to experience life again with all the good and bad mixed up together to create an ultimately fulfilling mix.
Though I always knew I wanted to do a creme brulee, the idea for using cardamom came from Epicurious. The rest of the recipe, however, is a classic from Julia Child. Also, this is a great visual tutorial for grinding cardamom.
Now that you’re good and hungry, read our recommendation of the book that inspired this recipe: In the Shadow of the Banyan.