Nobu Creme Brulee, Azuki (Red-bean) flavor

I thought I’d try my hand at making a creme brulee dessert, never having made one before. I turned to Nobu West’s coffee creme brulee recipe that formed part of the whiskey cappucino dessert as guidance for making my own creme brulee.

I pureed 1 cup of long boiled (azuki) red beans and then mixed up 4 tablespoons (2 oz) of milk with 7 oz of heavy cream.  Initially, I thought I was going to use 4 1/2 teaspoons of the puree.  But as I tasted the mix, I kept adding up to 4 oz (8 tablespoons) of the puree (which was unsweetened).

boiled azuki beans

azuki bean puree (unsweetened)

eted, I increased the amount of sugar upwards to 4 tablespoons (in should be noted that Hiroko Shimbo indicates that equal parts of sugar and azuki puree should be mixed together to make the bean paste base for desserts [The Japanese Kitchen, p. 473]).

I then warmed the milk/cream/azuki puree mix just to a boil, took it off the heat and filtered the mix.  Once that was done, I tempered the eggs with the milk/cream/puree mix a bit at a time until it

(left to right) egg whites from 4 eggs, milk/cream mix, beaten egg yolks (from 4 eggs)

was all incorporated.  At that point, I distributed the mixture to 3 7 oz ramekins. I placed the ramekins into a pan of hot water (about halfway up) and then into the oven which was preheated to 225 degree F (as per Nobu West).  I cooked the whole thing for 25 minutes. Unfortuantely, at the end of 25 minutes, I checked the creme brulee and they were not set. Remembering that there was another creme brulee recipe in Nobu: The Cookbook, I checked the  recipe there and discovered it listed the cooking temperature at 335 degrees F (for the same amount of time).  I reset the temperature and  continued cooking the brulee’s, checking periodically for doneness. The ingredient mix appeared to be just fine.  The issue appears to be the typo in Nobu West.

Once the cooking was done, I pulled the brulee’s out and set it aside to cool. The brulee’s were then

Azuki creme brulees out of the oven

covered and refridgerated for the following day.  The next day, I poured in ~1 teaspoon of sugar onto the top of each brulee and shook the ramekin side-to-side to evenly distribute the sugar on the surface and then placed the ramekins into the broiler.

1 teaspoon white sugar evenly shaken across the creme brulee tops

I broiled the brulee for about 10 minutes, checking for caramelization/doneness.  Once the ramekin was cool enough to handled, I placed fresh blueberries around the rim of the ramekins and served the dessert.

Finished creme brulee

Upon tasting the brulee, it had the expected custard creaminess and was not overly sweet.  There was a thin bottom layer where the azuki puree had come to rest and it too had just the right amount

azuki creme brulee interior

of sweetness.   All and all, this was definitely a fun and productive experiment. I suppose it was good thing to try this recipe; when I get the chance, I’ll communicate the typo to  Matsuhisa-sama.

Update (9 Jul 2020) 

There is a recipe for sweet red beans from Kei Hasagawa of Matsuhisa, LA at:
Chef Hasagawa mentions his sweet bean recipe as:

7 oz azuki beans
17.6 oz (Japanese) light brown sugar
.176 oz salt (1/100th the amount of sugar)

where you cook the beans in about 5.5 lbs of water on high heat, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until the beans are tender and then add the sugar in 3 equal portions (to dissolve) season with the salt and then reserve to cool to room temperature and then refridgerate.

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