It does involve making a custard or crème anglaise, but without the hard part when one cooks out the custard to the right consistency – the point at which most people end up with sweet scrambled eggs and a slightly annoyed, exasperated look on their face.
The trick with crème brulee is that it is cooked in a bain marie (a water bath) in a very low oven until it reaches setting point. It’s ideal for dinner parties as all this can be done way in advance, the pud chilled down and set in the fridge and all you need do is blowtorch or grill a layer of sugar on top until it caramelises and bob’s your uncle – the smoothest, most decadent pud around. It might even be a panna cotta beater.
This is an adaptation of a Marco Pierre White recipe – although don’t tell him, he’ll probably throw something sharp at me! The addition of passion fruit, one of my favourites, gives an added dimension and crunch to the finished puddings.