Tonka bean crème brûlée with apricot sorbet and chocolate emulsion

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A tonka bean has the taste of bitter almonds, cloves and vanilla, adding unique flavour to this crème brûlée recipe from Stephen Crane. The brûlées are served with an apricot sorbet and warm milk chocolate emulsion. Tonka beans are available to buy online or in specialty shops.

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Apricot sorbet

Tonka bean crème brûlée

Warm milk chocolate emulsion

Oat crumble

Almond tuile


  • Ice cream maker
  • Espuma gun
  • Muslin cloth
  • Blender
  • Microwave
  • 12 ovenproof dishes
  • Gas canister


To make the sorbet, put the sugar and 50ml water into a pan. Bring to the boil and then cool down. Mix in the apricot purée and churn in an ice cream maker
For the brûlée, toast the tonka beans in the oven for 10 minutes at 150⁰C/Gas mark 2. Peel the skin off and chop them into pieces
Whisk the yolks and sugar in a bowl. Bring the cream to the boil and pour it on the top of the yolk and sugar. Add the chopped tonka beans and infuse 10 minutes
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 110g of caster sugar
  • 900ml of double cream
Pass through 4 layers of muslin and skim. Fill up 12 cups or small ovenproof dishes with the mixture and place them on a tray
Cook for 40 to 50 minutes at 110⁰C/Gas mark 1/4: The crème brûlée are cooked when they are set like a soft jelly
To make the emulsion, melt the chocolate in the microwave, on medium heat for 1 minute and stir. Repeat that operation for 30 seconds at a go until the chocolate is melted
Bring the cream and milk to the boil. Whisk the egg and pour the boiling cream onto it. Make an emulsion by whisking the hot cream and egg mix into the chocolate in 3 batches
  • 45ml of milk
  • 1 egg
  • 150ml of double cream
Fill an espuma gun with the chocolate emulsion and add 1 gas bottle. Shake the espuma bottle upside down and keep warm
For the crumble. Mix all the ingredients together with the finger tips until crumbly. Divide up the crumble on a tray and cook it at 160⁰C/Gas mark 3 for 15 to 20 minutes. Break it by hands
For the almond tuile, sieve the ground almonds and the flour. Mix the butter and sugar in the blender
Add the flour and ground almonds, then the egg. Rest 2 hours in the fridge before use. Spread thinly on a silicone baking matt and cook on a non-stick tray at 150⁰C/Gas mark 2 for 7 minutes
Turn the tray for 2 or 3 minutes until mevently golden. While still warm cut ihot wedges and allow to cool and set. Store in an airtight container until ready for use
To serve, sprinkle enough caster sugar to coat the top of each brûlée and use a blow torch to caramelise and form the "brûlée" layer. Allow to cool and set for 2 minutes
  • caster sugar for dusting
Add a scoop of the sorbet into a second cup and garnish with the tuille and a spring of mint. Finally spoon a layer of the crumble into the third cup before using the espuma to top up with chocolate emulsion. Serve all three cups alongside each other on the plate

As head chef of the idyllic Ockenden Manor in the countryside of Sussex, chef Stephen Crane cooks refined, French-influenced food, and given his pedigree, that’s no great surprise.

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