Tangerine Crème Caramel with Plumped Apricots Recipe

The first dessert I made from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook was her crème caramels and they made a lasting impression on me. This tangy version is made with tangerines and served with plumped dried apricots for a unique twist. This recipe can be found in my second cookbook In the Kitchen with Michael Salmon, Recipes of Distinction from the Hartstone Inn on pages 193-195. Thank you to Bob and Suzie Jobes for the pictures; they were taken at our February 9th cooking class “Romantic Dinner for Two.”

makes 4

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons water

1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and place over high heat. Cook, without stirring, until the sugar turns a golden brown.
2. Immediately pour the caramel into the bottom of four small (175 ml or 6 oz) glass ramekins, dividing it evenly between them. Work quickly or the caramel will set up and you won’t be able to pour it.

Plumped Apricots

2 fresh tangerines
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup Grand Marnier liqueur
1 cup water
16 dried apricots

1. Peel the skin from the tangerines using a vegetable peeler and reserve for the candied tangerine peel recipe below.
2. Juice the tangerines and place the juice in a small saucepan, making sure there are no pits in it. Add the sugar, corn syrup, Grand Marnier and water in a medium (4 quart) saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the dried apricots and cover the pan. Poach the apricots for 5 minutes, plumping them. With a slotted spoon, carefully remove the apricots from the pan and spread them out on a plate to cool.
3. Reduce the tangerine juice over medium-high heat until it has reduced to about 1/4 cup and reserve for the custard recipe below.

1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and scrape out seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bring some water to a boil in a teakettle or saucepan for the water bath.
2. Combine the heavy cream, milk, scraped vanilla bean seeds and tangerine reduction (from above) in a medium-sized sauce pan and bring to a simmer.
3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs and egg yolk.
4. When the cream simmers, whisk it slowly into the egg mixture. Divide the custard between the four prepared ramekins and place them in a baking pan with tall sides. Fill the pan with the boiling water, reaching halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes or until the custard firms up. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Candied Tangerine Peel
Tangerine Peel reserved from the plumped apricot recipe above
1/2 cup granulated sugar

1. Using a sharp knife, remove as much of the white pith as possible from the tangerine skin. The white pith is very bitter, so removal is imperative.
2. Slice the skin into very thin strips and place in a small saucepan with 1 cup of cold water. Bring to a boil, drain off the liquid, and continue again with another cup of cold water. Continue this blanching three times.
3. Drain off the last of the water and place ¼ cup of the sugar in the saucepan with the tangerine peel along with ¼ cup of cold water. Place the pan over medium-high heat and reduce, stirring, until all of the liquid is gone.
4. Turn the peel out onto a piece of parchment paper and toss with the remaining ¼ cup of granulated sugar. Let dry for about 1 hour and place in a covered container until service. Store at room temperature.

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