Hong Kong Style Milk Tea Crème Brûlée
January 28, 2019
I’m not sure if I’ve explicitly mentioned this, but I was actually unintentionally born in Hong Kong. And although I definitely consider Shanghai home, I did spend a good seven years of my childhood growing up in the bustling, multicultural streets of the beautiful city.
Unfortunately, I can’t say I have a distinct connection to Hong Kong seeing as I don’t speak or understand Cantonese nor am I familiar with the lay of the land. It’s an aspect of myself that I’ve come to loathe and wish I could reconnect with. That being said, there are specific aspects of my birth country that have stuck with me for the past decade — the most prominent is, of course, the cuisine.
Hong Kong is located in a region where food culture is really having (and honestly has always had) a moment. Most famous for it’s dim sum, the region’s food culture is the epitome of Chinese comfort food. Think the Chinese equivalent to fried chicken or chicken noodle soup. All the food is prepared in a way that prioritizes flavor over anything else. To this day, I have yet to find any other cuisine that can compete with the pure ‘freshness’, so to speak, of the Hong Kong food scene. Growing up in Hong Kong has definitely left it’s mark on my perception of food & food culture and is an experience I would relive a thousand times over.
This dessert is inspired by one of the most well-known & appreciated drinks from Hong Kong: Milk Tea. While Milk Tea is found all throughout Mainland China, Taiwan, and other regions of Asia, Hong Kong milk tea is almost representative of the region itself. It is silkier, creamier, & slightly sweeter than most milk teas and is often used to whet the appetite before a meal. The cheap production methods meant the drink was also a pleasure accessible to almost everyone, contributing to its growth in popularity over the years.
Hong Kong Style milk tea gets its silky quality from evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk, which is by far one of my favorite sweeteners and it’s definitely the star of this recipe.
This recipe is super quick & easy, but if there’s one thing you might notice it’s that I burnt the tops of these guys a little too badly. The trick is to apply a layer of sugar thick enough so that when you broil the Milk Tea Crème Brûlée, the heat mainly targets the sugar.
If you’re as obsessed with milk tea as I am, this is definitely the recipe for you! Happy Brûlée-ing!
Ingredients (makes 3 large servings)
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup granulated white sugar (plus more for torching)
- 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 bags black tea (I used early grey)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Preheat the oven to 150C/300F.
- Heat all the ingredients except the egg yolks in a saucepot on medium high heat.
- In a separate bowl, place the egg yolks and whisk until smooth.
- Once the cream mixture starts to boil, remove from heat and slowly pour into the egg yolks, whisking vigorously to avoid curdling the eggs.
- Skim off the foam that accumulates on the surface of the batter. Pour into three ramekins.
- Place the ramekins in a roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with water until it reaches approximately half way up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake for approximately 45-60 minutes or until the center of the crème brûlée jiggles slightly.
- Transfer the milk tea crème brûlée to the fridge and cool for at least two hours.
- Once cooled, sprinkle a thin layer of sugar over each milk tea crème brûlée. Place in the oven with the rack on the highest position and and turn on the oven broiler until the sugar is caramelized, 5-10 minutes.