A well-made crème brûlée is a lesson in the beauty of contrast. A sheet of burnt sugar that shatters helplessly with the gentle prod of a spoon, going on to reveal soft, creamy custard that yields with ease – this delicate French dessert brings together two distinctly different textures in a passionate marriage!
While the classic eggs-and-cream version is pretty darn delicious on its own, a number of establishments in the city have come up with interesting experiments with the custard. Take for instance, Incognito Restaurant Bar & Cafe’s fruity take, which has the caramel crackling, topped with an extra layer of blueberry compote, which adds a tangy dimension to the otherwise all-sweet flavour. Similarly, Polka Dots serves this traditional French-origin pudding with an orange cointreau coulis, the heady, citrusy notes of which will take anyone with a sweet-and-sour tooth to their happy place.
Terttulia clearly has a soft spot for the crème brûlée for, it has not only incorporated it into their French toast (think deep-fried egg-smeared slices of bread, thinly coated with burnt caramel, and topped either with crispy bacon rashers or grilled sausages), but also in the cheesecake. For, why choose between two desserts when you can combine them into one decadent treat? A lush and toasty cover gently splits open into a satiny smooth cream cheese filling which sits on a crusty base of biscuit crumbs – obscenely sinful, methinks.
YOLO Gastro Bar does a bittersweet espresso crème brûlée, featuring a hard sugar crust that breaks open to expose rich, coffee-flavoured custard that can be scooped along with the caramel splinters for a delectable mouthful. 212 All Day Café & Bar, meanwhile, has spongy bits of raisins dunked into a rum-infused custard, the intoxicating essence of which can be experienced with every bite of the crème brûlée.
The rendition at Eighty Eight, the 24-hour coffee shop at Hyatt, is a feast for both the eyes and tastebuds. The vanilla-flavoured crème brûlée here is accompanied with a mellow pineapple compote and melt-in-the-mouth coconut ice cream that tones down the overall sweetness level of the dish – beautifully conceptualised and executed.
My favourite in this lot, however, would be the absolute culinary genius that is observed in the ‘gulab jamun brûlée’ at Donkey’s Arse, which puts a sophisticated French spin to a beloved desi mithai. So, you have these warm, syrup-soaked fried mawa dumplings nestled in vanilla custard which is again capped with the quintessential golden-brown scorched sugar glaze we all love to crack open.