Sunday 10 July 2011

caramelised fig baked custards

At a PR event for the Game Farm at Bitton Gourmet, I was discussing with Helen from Grab Your Fork as to why Asians (both Aussies and the original gangsters) love a good old crème brûlée. I’m not a big fan myself, but Helen theorised it’s the eggs and the creaminess that attracts the Asian palate.

Good theory. Makes sense.

Let’s go with it.

On cue, some petit four size crème brûlées appeared, and so we both tucked in.
In the words of Rachel Zoe, I die.

This tiny cup of creamy goodness undid the last 10 minutes of my blathering and protestations about how dull and pointless crème brûlée is.

This crème brûlée was magnifique!

With David Bitton’s cookbook in my goodie bag (merci!) I was determined to recreate this baked custard treasure at home, only I wanted to do something with dried figs.

For some people, the joy of the crème brûlée is the silky custard texture so adding figs would ruin the entire experience. If you are that person, do not read on.

If you are not sure, you might consider straining the custard after you purée the figs through, but I think that would be a waste of delicious fig.

Fig seeds have such a nutty, crispy texture to them and this baked custard can handle that. It’s strong and gutsy. It’s brave.

I used the Bitton cookbook as a guide on technique but used my own measurements and ingredients to create this sweet baked custard.

I’m pretty proud of the results, and rate this as one of my best inventions ever.

I’ll let you judge for yourselves.

Caramelised Fig Baked Custards

Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 4.


50g brown sugar
60ml dark rum
2 cinnamon quills
8 dried figs, stalk removed & quartered
60ml water

3 egg yolks
50g brown sugar
200ml cream
100ml milk

1. First prepare the figs by melting the sugar in a small saucepan over a low heat. Be careful not to let it burn.

2. Next add the cinnamon quills and rum, allowing the alcohol to sizzle off. The sugar will seize and harden, but don’t worry about it.

3. Next add the water and figs and cover the saucepan. Bring to boil then reduce to simmer for 4 minutes.

4. Ensure the figs have softened and all the toffee pieces have dissolved, creating a thick syrup. Remove from heat and set aside.

5. Preheat oven to 180’C.

6. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks and brown sugar until pale and creamy.

7. In a large saucepan, put cinnamon quills from the fig mixture (don’t worry if they bring some fig over with them), milk and cream.

8. Heat mixture almost to boiling point then strain into egg mixture, whisking rapidly the whole time to prevent eggs from scrambling. Discard quills.

9. Return to saucepan and heat on medium, stirring continuously until mixture thickens into custard.

10. In a blender, purée half the fig pieces (reserving syrup) and all the custard.

11. Pour into four 200ml ramekins. Place ramekins in a baking dish, lined with a tea towel (to prevent bases from overcooking) then pour boiling water halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

12. Bake in oven for 40 minutes. You may wish to start checking a little earlier, depending on your oven, but the custards will be ready when set and an insert knife or skewer comes out pretty clean.

13. Either chill for 2 hours or serve warm. Top with remaining fig pieces and rum syrup.


  1. Hi Anna I love figs and Creme Brulee, so I wil give this recipe a go and see how it works. Meg

  2. Looks delicious and a perfect recipe to make for my Nonno - he (like all Italians) is a fig fiend! And pretty impartial to the odd creme brulee.


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