Grand Marnier Crème Caramel
Creamy Grand Marnier Crème Caramels are garnished with candied orange segments and dots of Grand Marnier sauce and basil sauce. The basil sauce and chiffonade are an unusual but refreshing note for this orange-based dessert.
- Amaranth Nougatine
- Popping amaranth - 1/2 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 5 tablespoons
- Brown Sugar - 1-1/2 cup
- Lemon Juice - 3 to 4 drops
- Candied Orange Slices and Sugar Sticks
- Baby mandarin oranges - 1 can
- Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Light Corn Syrup - 1 tablespoon
- Vegetable oil spray
- Grand Marnier Crème Caramel
- Milk - 3 cups
- Zest of 2 oranges
- Sugar - scant 1/2 cup
- Pinch of salt
- Eggs - 5
- Egg Yolks - 4
- Reduced orange juice - 1/4 cup, strained
- Grand Marnier - 1/2 cup
- Sugar - 2 cups
- Hot Water - 1/4 cup
- Basil Sauce
- Basil - 1 bunch, stemmed and blanched
- Light Corn Syrup - 2 to 3 tablespoons
- Grand Marnier Sauce
- Crème Anglaise - 1/2 cup
- Grand Marnier - 1 teaspoon
- Basil leaves - 2, cut in very fine julienne (chiffonade)
To make the nougatines: Spray 2 sheets of parchment paper lightly with vegetable oil. Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat until hot. Add the amaranth, about 2 tablespoons at a time, and heat until the grains pop like popcorn. Set aside. Continue until all the amaranth is popped. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat stir in the sugar and lemon juice. Heat until the sugar melts and turns an amber color. Remove from heat and fold in the popped amaranth. Spread the mixture over one of the oiled parchment sheets and top with the second sheet, oil-side toward the mixture. Roll out into a thin circle or rectangle. Remove the top sheet and cut the nougatine into 1/2-inch-by-8-inch strips. Wrap around the outside of ring molds and let cool. The nougatines may be made ahead and stored in a cool, dry place.
To make the candied orange slices and sugar sticks: Drain the orange slices and spread on a dish; freeze. Wet a small heavy saucepan and dump out the water. Put the sugar in a the pan and add the corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Do not stir; wash away any crystals which form on the sides of the pan with a damp brush. Cook until the mixture just begins to turn amber in color; remove from heat immediately.
Lightly spray a fork with vegetable oil. Spray a parchment-lined baking sheet or piece of marble with the oil. Quickly dip the frozen orange slices in the sugar mixture, shaking off the excess, then slide off the fork onto the prepared pan or marble. When all the orange slices are coated, put the sugar back over medium heat to warm it again. Spray the back of a sheet pan or another piece of marble. Make two large double paper cone piping bags; snip the tip for a very small opening. Put half the hot sugar in one bag and pipe the sugar into 8-inch lines on the prepared sheet or marble. Repeat with the other bag and remaining sugar (using two bags helps keep the sugar warm for piping; a single large bag might congeal before you finish).
To make the crème caramel: Bring the milk to a boil over medium-high heat and remove from heat. Add the zest and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture and let it cool slightly. Stir in the sugar and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks enough to break them up. Whisk in a large spoonful of the hot milk mixture to temper the eggs, then slowly pour the egg mixture into the milk mixture, whisking to blend as you pour. Strain the mixture. Whisk in the orange juice and Grand Marnier.
Preheat the oven to 300 F. Place six 6-ounce ramekins on a piece of parchment paper placed in a baking pan at least as deep as the ramekins. Wet a small heavy saucepan and dump out the water. Put the sugar in a the pan over medium-high heat and heat until the sugar melts and begins to turn amber, 320 F on a candy thermometer. Do not stir while the sugar is melting and caramelizing; brush away any crystals which form on the sides of the pan with a damp brush. Remove from heat and gently whisk in the hot water; guard against spatters. Pour a thin layer of sugar into each ramekin and allow to cool and set; reserve any excess sugar and keep warm for the sauce.
Fill each ramekin to the top with the custard mixture. Fill the baking pan three-fourths of the way up the sides of the ramekins with hot water and cover the pan with foil, sealing around the edges. Bake until set, rotating the pan halfway through cooking, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature, then cover the ramekins individually with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
To make the basil and Grand Marnier sauce: Roughly chop the basil. Put enough corn syrup in a blender to cover the blade. Add the basil and puree until very smooth; the mixture will become warm. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and cool in a bowl placed in a larger bowl of ice. Put in a squeeze bottle. Gently whisk the crème anglaise and Grand Marnier together and put in a squeeze bottle.
To serve: Warm the bottoms of the ramekins in a shallow dish of warm water. Run a sharp small knife around the side of a ramekin. Invert a serving plate over the top of the ramekin, hold in place, and flip; remove the ramekin. Repeat with all the ramekins. Blot excess liquid off the crème caramels. Garnish the plates with small dots of basil sauce and Grand Marnier sauce. Sprinkle with basil bits. Stand an amaranth nougatine on top of each and anchor with a candied orange slice. Stand a few sugar sticks in the crème caramels and lay a few others across the tops of the caramels.