Which Cat got the Crème Brûlée?

In France, the first published reference to a crème brûlée comes up in a French text published in 1691. A hundred and seventy years later, it came to be associated with Trinity College at Cambridge

At Topaz, the classic Crème Brûlée is, and ever will be, one of our most popular desserts, for very good reasons. It is a testament to the elegance of simplicity, and how a sense of luxuriousness comes from taking the time to get that simplicity right. And there is always something a little audacious and enticing about that first crisp crack of the spoon on the golden glass of the caramel topping in order to reach the smooth, creamy deliciousness beneath.

That simplicity may be why France, England and Spain each seem to have independently developed their own versions of the dessert, though the Spanish pipped everyone to the post.

In France, the first published reference to a crème brûlée comes up in a French text published in 1691. A few years later in England, a first mention appears in the early 1700s. A hundred and seventy years later, it came to be associated with Trinity College at Cambridge. It is reported that the first person to suggest the dessert to Cambridge’s kitchens was a student, from Scotland. His proposal was rejected with contempt. Whether he was so determined to make his point that it drove him to pursue his studies to the point of becoming a fellow of the university (a member of the faculty elite) in order to re-propose his dish, whereupon it was accepted with relish, is not clear. Though we wouldn’t be surprised…

As a result of this association though, the dessert became known as Trinity Cream in England, and Trinity itself used to brand their versions with the college crest.

But the Spanish appear to have beaten everyone to the whip, with a Crema Catalana which first appeared in Catalan cookbooks of the 14th century. There are however some difference between the Catalan version and the Crème Brûlée we know today. The French version is made with cream and flavoured with vanilla, while the Catalan version is made with milk, and typically flavoured with cinnamon and lemon zest.

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At Topaz we make it the classic French way, as you would expect. We’re very confident that simply trying it will make you feel like the cat that got the cream.

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