Monday 18 April 2011

Cooking with Beer: Pale Malt Crème Brûlée

Wort, the sweet liquid that yeast turns into beer, is made by mashing malt in hot water for an hour. A thought: what if you attempted the same process using cream and milk and use it to make a custard? As soon as that burrowed itself into my brain I had to find out.

I popped to my local brewery – Royal Tunbridge Wells – to pick up a few handfuls of pale malt. Back in the kitchen I loosely repeated the brewing process by heating some cream and milk in a cast-iron casserole to roughly (i.e. I guessed and when it started bubbling I moved it onto a smaller gas ring) 70C and then added the malt and a vanilla pod, stirring it every few minutes for an hour and hoping it stayed at a regular temperature. From there I followed the typical recipe for a crème brûlées.

And did it work?

Hell yeah! The finished brûlées are fantastic. Even better than I hoped they’d be. Creamy and smooth, the malt is subtle but definitely there, adding extra sweetness and a different depth of flavour, almost white chocolate-like and somehow wonderfully comforting. If you’ve got any pale malt lying around (or if you pinch some from your local brewery like I did – you don’t need much) then I definitely recommend this.

This will make six brûlées (or four brûlées and some ice cream):

900ml double cream
500ml milk
150g pale malt
1 vanilla pod
8 egg yolks
100g caster sugar

Heat the double cream and milk to around 70C (there’s a lot more than a usual recipe but you lose some to the malt), then add the vanilla and malt and heat for 45-60 minutes, stirring to avoid it clumping together. Strain the creamy wort into a clean pan, pressing as much liquid through the sieve as possible.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar then gradually pour the hot cream over it while still whisking. Strain into a pouring jug and then fill some ramekins. Bake in a bain marie at 150C for 30-40 minutes (or until it is set on top but still wobbles), chill in the fridge for at least six hours and then before serving top with sugar (I tried a sugar and malt topping but the malt burnt before the sugar caramelised) and caramelise it with a kitchen blowtorch or under the grill.

(To make ice cream... save back some when you fill the ramekins and put this into a clean saucepan, stir with a wooden spoon until it thickens – you are making custard – and then let it cool before freezing or churning in an ice cream maker – the ice cream tastes amazing!).

Not quite cooking with beer, more cooking with pre-beer, but it's a fun little beery recipe but one which works generally and isn’t just for beer freaks like me – the malt genuinely adds a fantastic flavour to it. I’m also guessing that this would be great with a massive imperial stout on the side, something like Bourbon County Stout or oak aged Yeti – the bigger the better.

Inspiration for this came from BeerBirraBier’s malted pancake post. And while at Royal Tunbridge Wells Brewery I also picked up a few bottles, of course. I drank Royal, their best seller, while I cooked, and it’s a really decent easy-drinking best bitter.


  1. Your half way to homebrewing there. Don't fight it Mark you know its inevitable. BREW! BREW! BREW!

  2. I'm getting closer Rob! One day I'll get there :)

  3. This looks delicious! Such a cool idea and a great way to work beer ingredients and flavours into "normal" food. Love it!

  4. With all the eggs we get from out chickens, Brulee's are always on the menu at our gaff. I'll definitely try these with some malt.

  5. Mark N - If you try it then let me know what you think!

  6. Sounds interesting.I have never tried cooking with Beer.I will definitely try this.Thanks for sharing.