This is the season of deep flavoured edible flowers – their herby flavours verge on savoury, but they are the ultimate flavour adornment for a silky sweet woodruff crème caramel drizzled with birch or maple syrup. If Willow really was a whisp, this is what she would be dipping her silky fingers into.
3 springs of sweet woodruff, dried to release its vanilla flavour
300ml full fat milk
300ml single cream
4 large eggs
25g sugar or birch sugar (Xylitol – available in most good food shops)
2 butter biscuits crushed with a few finely chopped rosemary leaves.
Birch sap or amber (dark) maple syrup
Warm the milk & cream in a pan, adding the sprigs of Sweet Woodruff & let its flavour infuse in the warm liquid for at least ½ hour. Whilst the Sweet woodruff is infusing, whisk together the eggs & sugar.
Whisk the milk into the egg & sugar mixture & pour into single ramekins or a shallow dish. Place the dish(es) into a larger oven proof container & fill the outside container with water. Place both in to an oven preheated to 150C & cook for 20 – 30 minutes, or until the custard has set.
Serve quenelles of the crème caramel with rosemary, violet, honeysuckle or white dead nettle flowers, sprinkle with the crushed rosemary biscuits & drizzle over the sap syrup. The version in the photo was made by our very good friend the lovely chef Marcus Bean, he added a crushed matcha honeycomb – it was bitter & heavenly.
(*Sweet Woodruff contains coumarin, which when dried releases a vanilla / tonka bean flavour. Coumain is best avoided by people on blood thinning medication or pregnant women)
(Birch sap syrup is extremely delicious, and easy to make. If you have a birch tree, you can tap its rising sap in the spring & reduce the trees nectar into a deep molasses like syrup – if you can’t get hold of birch sap syrup, it’s cousin Maple will work just as well- and you can forage for it in the warmth of your local shop)