Popcorn Crème Brûlée

Pastry Chef Jeff Sytsma dishes on this unexpected hit dessert at Manhattan hotspot La Silhouette.

Popcorn is an all-American snack. From local fairs in the summer to nights spent at the movies, popcorn seems to satisfy our salty cravings, particularly in the warmer months. My popcorn crème brûlée dessert with candied honeycrisp apples, caramel popcorn and salty caramel ice cream is La Silhouette’s most popular dessert and my favorite to make. The idea came from a popcorn-infused ice cream swirled with caramel that I made a few years ago. After many trials, I found myself looking for ways to reimagine the recipe at La Silhouette.

Crème brûlée is typically confined to a ramekin, so I searched for a way to create a suspended crème brûlée. After infusing the brûlée base with freshly popped popcorn, I strain out the kernels and set the mixture with gelatin. Once frozen, it’s unmolded and put it in the refrigerator to thaw. The texture is very similar to a cooked brûlée without the restrictions of the ramekin.

We like to serve it with Château Petit Vedrines's 2007 Sauternes because it has a deeper flavor and a slightly thicker viscosity that stands up to the stronger caramel elements of the dish.  The Sauternes also provides fruity and acidic notes that balance out the creaminess and sweetness of the dish.

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