Gouda Crème Brulée Cheese Tuiles

I have fallen in love with the nutty flavor the cheese adds to the custard

By MICHAELLA IRLBECK for the Flathead Beacon

Crème brulée is typically associated with dessert and a sweet burnt sugar top. Until recently, I had never made a savory crème brulée, and I was very skeptical. This dish has changed my mind in every aspect. I have fallen in love with the nutty flavor the cheese adds to the custard and am looking forward to creating this for my family many more times.

Cheese Tuiles

• 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

• 3/4 c. finely grated aged Gouda cheese (about 2 oz.)

Rub the bottom and sides of six 2-oz. ceramic or glass ramekins with the butter.

Put 2 Tbsp. of the Gouda on the bottom of each ramekin. Place the ramekins in a microwave oven and cook on high for 1 minute. The cheese should be melted and bubbling.

Run a paring knife around the inside edge of each ramekin to loosen the cheese tuiles, then transfer the tuiles to paper towels to cool for 10 minutes.

The tuiles should be crispy at this point. If they are not, transfer them to a plate and microwave again for 30 seconds, repeating if necessary until they are crispy.

When the tuiles are cool, transfer them to an airtight container and keep at room temp until serving. Reserve the ramekins.

Crème Brulée

• 1 3/4 c. heavy cream

• 1 1/2 c. finely grated aged Gouda cheese (about 4 oz.)

• 4 egg yolks

• 1 tsp. sea salt

• 18 Castelvetrano olives

• 1 1/2 c. roasted almonds

• 24 fruit and nut crisp cracker

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium-low heat. Stir in the Gouda and remove from the heat. Let steep in a warm place for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Strain the cream through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl and discard the cheese.

Lightly whisk the egg yolks in a large metal bowl just until blended. Add a few teaspoons of the cream to the egg yolks while whisking constantly to combine. Repeat with the remaining cream, adding a few teaspoons at a time and whisking constantly to blend, until all the cream has been incorporated.

Whisk in the salt. Pour the custard into the ramekins you used to make the tuiles.

Place the ramekins, not touching, in a baking dish just large enough to accommodate them.  Pour 2 cups hot water into the bottom of the baking dish and cover the dish with aluminum foil.

Bake until the custard is set, about 45 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool for 15-20 minutes.  Refrigerate at least four hours or up to two days.

To Serve:

Place a single cheese tuile on top of each crème brulée and serve with the olives, almonds and crackers. Serve the crème brulée chilled. Serves six.

Michaella Irlbeck is the Executive Sous Chef at the Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College. For more information about the program, visit www.culinaryinstituteofmt.com.