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Corn and Coconut Creme Brulee

This dessert uses two of corn's more unusual pairings--coconut and vanilla--to make one unforgettable dessert. If you love this combination of flavors as much as we do, try using these ingredients in other dishes, such as a cake or cookies.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr 10 min (includes chilling times)
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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2 ears fresh corn, husked, silk removed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Kosher salt

One 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

1 cup water

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 cups milk

3 large eggs

3 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Special equipment:
six 8-ounce brulee dishes or flameproof ramekins; a kitchen blowtorch (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Cut the kernels from the ears of corn. Cut each corncob into 3 pieces.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepot over medium heat. Stir in the corn kernels and 1 teaspoon salt. Saute until just tender, about 5 minutes, being careful not to let the corn or butter brown. Add the corncobs, coconut milk, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook at a simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. While the mixture simmers, combine the sugars in a blender or food processor, blend well, and set aside.
  4. Remove and discard the corncobs. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing with a silicone spatula to obtain all the pulp; discard any remaining solids. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the sugar mixture, the milk, eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla until thoroughly mixed. Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt, if needed.
  5. Divide the mixture among six 8-ounce brulee dishes or flameproof ramekins, filling them to just below the rim. Place the dishes in a roasting pan or large baking dish. Pour water into the roasting pan to come about halfway up the sides of the dishes. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and carefully transfer it to the center rack of the oven. Bake until just set, about 35 minutes.
  6. Remove the dishes from the pan. Refrigerate until well chilled. 
  7. Spread a thin layer of the remaining sugar mixture on top of the baked custards (you may not need it all). Caramelize with a torch. Or place the custards on a baking sheet and caramelize under a preheated broiler. Serve immediately.
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