While fall may traditionally be a time for warm fruit pies, a creamy, sweet and crunchy creme brulee -- essentially a candy-coated custard -- is an appealing way to shake things up.
The custard for this fresh ginger-infused creme brulee can easily be prepared a day or two ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.
Then, while some of your helpers clear the table, you sprinkle some sugar on top of the pre-made custard, throw it under the broiler for a few minutes to create the caramel crust and you are ready to serve it topped with fresh raspberries.
AP Photo - - Fresh Ginger Creme Brulee
AP Photo - - Dutch Apple Pie with Parmesan Crust
This dish also can be cooked in individual ramekins using the same technique. The cooking time will be roughly the same.
Fresh Ginger Creme Brulee
Start to finish: 1 hour 10 minutes (15 minutes active), plus 4-1/2 hours cooling. Serves 8.
2 cups half-and-half
4-inch piece unpeeled fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 pint fresh raspberries
Heat the oven to 325 F.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high, heat the half-and-half, stirring constantly, until steaming but not boiling.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the ginger. Cover and set aside to steep for 20 minutes.
After the half-and-half and ginger have steeped, bring a kettle of water to a boil.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, eggs, vanilla and salt until slightly frothy. Slowly whisk in the hot half-and-half and ginger mixture. Pour the mixture through a mesh strainer into a shallow 1- or 1-quart baking dish. Discard the solids in the strainer.
Set the dish in a larger, shallow roasting pan. Set the pans in the oven, then pour enough boiling water from the kettle into the roasting pan to come halfway up the side of the baking dish.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until set around the edges but still slightly wiggly at the center. Remove the custard from the water bath, set on a rack and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
When ready to serve, heat the broiler. Remove the custard from the refrigerator, uncover and blot off any excess moisture from the top with a paper towel.
Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the top, making sure the edges are covered. Broil at least 6 inches from the heat source until the sugar is melted and caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the dish as needed to ensure even browning. Let cool for a few minutes. Serve immediately (best within 2 hours so the crust remains firm), garnished with the raspberries.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 278 calories; 54 calories from fat (19 percent of total calories); 6 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 97 mg cholesterol; 50 g carbohydrate; 8 g protein; 0 g fiber; 168 mg sodium.
Dutch Apple Pie with Parmesan Crust
Start to finish: 1 hour 30 minutes (30 minutes active). Serves 8.
For the crust:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cold, cut in chunks
1/4 cup ice water
For the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
5 large baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2/3 cup raisins
Additional sugar, if desired
In a food processor, pulse together the sugar, salt and flour. Add the Parmesan and pulse to mix in. Add the butter and pulse to combine until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the egg and the ice water and pulse again, just until the dough starts to come together.
Shape the dough into 2 discs. The dough can be used immediately or wrapped in plastic and refrigerated.
On a lightly floured surface, roll one disc of dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan. If the dough cracks around the edges, pinch it back together. The dough should overhang the pan slightly.
Roll the second disc into a 12-inch circle and set aside.
Heat the oven to 350 F.
To make the filling, in a medium bowl whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch. Add the apples and raisins, then toss well.
Transfer the filling to the pie pan, arranging it evenly over the dough. Carefully place the second round of dough over the apples. Fold the edges of the top dough under the bottom round, then pinch together, crimping to make a decorative edge. If desired, sprinkle the top with sugar if desired. Use a paring knife to cut a few steam slits in the top of the crust.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden. If the crust begins to get too brown, tent with foil. Let cool before serving.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 585 calories; 268 calories from fat; 30 g fat (18 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 103 mg cholesterol; 70 g carbohydrate; 14 g protein; 5 g fiber; 570 mg sodium.