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I don’t often think about the ice age when I think about P.E.I. blueberries. Yet, surprisingly, the history of this anthocyanin packed fruit stretches back as far as 10,000 years in Atlantic Canada. Blueberries are in fact one of the few fruit varieties which are actually native to North America.
Blueberries are prized for the tart, yet sweet flavour that taste wonderful in the ever popular crumbles, pies and smoothies. They are versatile as they additionally pair well with more savoury applications in sauces for wild game, pork and turkey.
Head chef at Red Water Grill in Charlottetown, Chanelle Doucette is also an ardent fan of the tiny, nutrient dense berry. Chef Doucette believes that, “blueberries are versatile because they are fruity, spicy and floral, making them suitable for a range of dishes both sweet and savory. Depending on the time of year, they can read sour and pungent or be mellow and sweet.”
Recipe inspirations can come from a diverse range of experiences and what inspires any particular flavour combination or plating style varies from one to chef to another. Respect is a significant driving force in Doucette’s cooking philosophy. “My approach to food is to respect the ingredients. I try to make something that tastes familiar, but with a twist. For example, my favorite thing to do with bananas is to roast them and make a roasted banana ice cream. It is something we've all eaten before, but at the same time is completely different. I like to bring a fresh approach to familiar ingredients that are as local and fresh as possible.”
For Doucette, the inspiration for her white chocolate and blueberry crème brulee is an organic one; “I've always loved chocolate and blueberries together. The creaminess of white chocolate brings out the tang in the blueberries, while the caramel taste that comes from baking the chocolate lends and extra bite to dessert that keeps it interesting. I once had a scoop of blueberry ice cream with a caramel swirl, and that's the feel that I was trying to recreate.”
Caramelized White Chocolate and Blueberry Crème Brûlée
Chef Chanelle Doucette
3 c. fresh or frozen wild blueberries
1/2 c. water
1 c. sugar
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. nutmeg
Caramelized White Chocolate:
1 cup of good quality white chocolate (at least 30 per cent cocoa butter), chopped into small pieces
Place in oven at 225F for five minutes. Spread around with a spatula.
Place back in oven, removing to spread around, in 10-minute intervals (about 4o minutes in total). Chocolate should be light caramel in colour.
Crème Brûlée Base:
2 c. whipping cream
1/3 c. white sugar
4 egg yolks
1 T vanilla
1/4 c. caramelized white chocolate
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. salt
1. Heat the cream in a medium sized pot. When it starts to simmer, add the caramelized white chocolate and turn down heat, stirring occasionally until mostly melted. Cream base will take on a caramel colour.
2. Whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and salt. Whisk until the egg yolks become slightly pale.
3. Temper the cream base into the egg yolk mixture, drizzling in a bit at a time until half incorporated, then faster. Use a rubber spatula to incorporate, not a whisk, or bubbles will form.
4. Strain the mixture using a fine mesh strainer to catch any pieces of chocolate that haven’t dissolved.
5. Place six ramekins in a hotel or roasting pan. Pour about two tablespoons into the bottom of each ramekin, forming a 1/4 inch layer.
6. Pour the crème brûlée base into a vessel with a spout for easy pouring. Do this in batches if necessary. Placing a spoon in the ramekin, carefully pour the base over the back of the spoon so as not to disturb the blueberry coulis on the base of the ramekin. The two layers should be distinguishable.
7. Pour water in the hotel/roasting pan, coming up to about an inch on the sides of the ramekins.
8. Cover with foil and bake at 300F for about 35 minutes, baking longer if needed. When done, the sides should be set and about a 1/2 inch of the center should still be slightly jiggly. Uncover and cool about 20 minutes, and then place in the fridge.
Sprinkle about a tablespoon of sugar on top of the crème brûlée. Using a blow torch or an oven on the broiler setting, cook until the top is bubbling and dark caramel in colour.
MORE FROM CHEF ILONA:
- More people looking for greater connection to locally produced food
- The difference between barbecue … and barbecue
- Atlantic Canada offers an abundance of creative meals in the summer
- Getting grilled
- A stacked Italian salad with fennel, chives, oranges, lemon, pancetta
- Traditional street food
Chef Ilona Daniel's food column, Food Seductress, runs on the first Friday of each month. She welcomes comments from readers by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter: Twitter.com/chef_ilona.