maple syrup + vanilla bean creme brulee tart

maple syrup creme brulee tart-8.jpg

The morning I shot this tart was a total kitchen disaster! You will hardly believe the story when I tell it to you…

The night I made this tart I decided to whip up some meringues with the extra leftover egg whites. With meringues you leave them in the oven overnight to cool and set up with crème brûlée you need the broiler to brûlée the sugar. I think you know where I am headed with this one. So the next morning after the meringues had been setting in the oven I casually stroll into the kitchen, make a nice warm cup of coffee, have a lovely bowl of oatmeal and turn the oven onto broil, you know to warm up for the crème brûlée.

While the oven is so nicely heating up I head back into the bedroom to say good morning to Paul. We are sitting there chatting for 5 minutes maybe and light bulb goes off wildly in my head, "omg the meringues!" Yes, as you could have guessed they were burnt to a crisp, so needless to say there were no meringues. They were just something extra I threw together anyway no biggie. They were just cane sugar meringues, with blueberry lemon compote folded into them, meant to be crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. You know the perfect combination for a meringue, in my opinion anyhow. Whatever, I'm not bitter...onto the next task I went, brûléeing

The next steps all run smooth, the crème brûlée was brûléed, the shoot whet wonderfully, I snuck in a couple of bites and it was delicious. I have actually made the crème brûlée portion without the tart shell quite a few times but the idea of putting the custard into the tart was new and turned out brilliant.

So the shoot is over and I was preparing for another one, it was a busy morning. Next thing I know the tart is toppled over cream side up onto the tile floor. Heart shattered. There was once slice that was put onto a plate for the shoot that Paul and I then both fought over to eat because it was that good but the rest, the rest was on the floor in total misery.

Paul finishes his last measly bite and instantly says can you make another?! Which is when I proceeded to glare at him, while grabbing paper towel to wipe up the sadness on the floor. 

The tart is  brilliant though, relatively simple to make and it tastes absolutely delicious. The tart crust is buttery and delicate, almost melts in the mouth and the crème brûlée is pure magic made with maple syrup and vanilla beans. The maple syrup gives the cream so much depth, a richness you just don’t normally get with crème brûlée made with regular sugar.

This along with my flourless chocolate almond cake {torta caprese} are going to be my Christmas desserts this year. I think the two choices will be perfect. Let's be real though I will totally be having a slice of each.

maple syrup vanilla bean crème brûlée tart

2 ½  cups heavy cream

1/2 vanilla bean

1 large egg

3 large egg yolks

1 tbsp pure vanilla

7 tbsp Grade B maple syrup

4-5 tbsp cane sugar, for topping

press-in shortbread tart shell

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup cane sugar

2 large egg yolks

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp himalayan salt


preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

shortbread tart shell:

In a medium bowl stir together butter and sugar. Stir in yolks. Add flour and salt, and stir until mixture is dry and crumbly. Press dough into bottom and up sides of a greased 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.

Freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.

Bake just until crust turns golden around the edges, 18-20 minutes. Let cool in tart pan on a wire rack for at least an 1 hour.

crème brûlée: 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Pour the heavy cream into a saucepan and place over medium heat. While the cream is heating, slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, using a sharp paring knife separate the seeds from the skin by scraping the bean with the knife.

Place the seeds and skin in the heating cream along with the extra tablespoon of vanilla. Scald the cream by heating it until bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan. Remove from the heat.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the whole egg, egg yolks, and maple syrup until well blended. Continue to whisk while slowly pouring the hot cream into the egg mixture and whisk until the mixture is smooth and homogenous in colour.

Pour the cream mixture into the cooled tart shell and cover just the edges of the shell with tin foil so they don’t burn. Bake for 35-40 minutes, the custard should tremble slightly when gently shaken.

If you detect any liquid under the skin, the custard is under baked. Put the tart back in the oven and shake every 5 minutes or so until it is ready.

Refrigerate the tart for 2-3 hours before serving so the custard can fully set. You can also make this tart a couple of days ahead before serving just brulee it when you are ready to serve. 

When you are ready to serve the tart preheat the broiler on high.

Sprinkle the cane sugar evenly on top of the custard, It is important to spread the sugar evenly; if it is too thick or too thin in places, the caramelization will not be even across the top. When the broiler is hot, place the tart shell on a baking sheet about 4 inches under the broiler and broil until the sugar is caramelized. Keep a close eye on the crème brûlée during broiling. It is finished when it is light brown.

You could also use a blow torch instead of the broiler to do the bruleeing part of the tart.