Lemon Verbena and Chamomile Creme Brulee for the Soul

When I was a little girl, my grandmother had a lot of natural remedies for different ailments. I was hardly ever given any cough syrup or pills. Herbal teas were mostly used and amongst those, I really remember chamomile. I strongly disliked it at the time and someone always had to hold my nose shut while I drank the tea but today, I really appreciate it. I enjoy the apple-like aroma and mild taste. As a matter of fact, I drink it almost everyday.


In the Basque Country, herbs are abundant. Surprisingly though, they are traditionally not used much in cooking. They have had a medicinal role and now they are being re-introduced in the culinary world by all the new young chefs. One of the greatest Basque chefs at the moment is Andoni Luis Aduriz, who is chef owner of Mugaritz. He has published several outstanding books that I highly recommend. Some of them have been translated into different languages as well. My favorite one is definitely Clorofilia, in which he lists all the available herbs in our area with amazing recipes and beautiful short stories. There is a very mystical aura to him.

I was reading through his book a few nights ago and memories of my grandmother and chamomile came over me. I closed the book, shut my eyes, leaned back and tried to think about her. Then, I got online and ordered some lemon verbena and chamomile plants and knew exactly what I was going to be making with them.

These days, a few of my friends and some family seem to be going through a rough patch. Even I have found myself very introspective lately. Thinking about life, the world, where we are headed. So this is dedicated to all who seem to be going through hard times. Hang in there, things come and go, and usually, if we face our fears face to face, the outcome will only be bright. So have some chamomile tea and I will be here to listen.

Lemon Verbena and Chamomile Creme Brulee

500 ml organic heavy cream
5 organic egg yolks
100 grams sugar
3 grams (about 3 sprigs) lemon verbena leaves
1 grams chamomille leaves (my plant does not have any flowers yet but the leaves are also fragrant)

In a small saucepan, place the cream and the herbs and bring to a boil. Turn the heat off and let the herbs steep in the cream for a few minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Temper the warm cream into the yolks and whisk. Strain the custard through a fine sieve.

Place ramekins on a sheetpan. Pour custard into ramekins and bring the pan into a 300 degree oven. Once the sheetpan is on the oven rack, pour some boiling water on the pan to create a water bath. Bake the creme brulee in the 300 degree oven in a water bath for about 20 minutes (it depends on the size of the ramekin or how much custard is in each one). When lightly shaken, the center should jiggle slightly but not appear liquid.

Refrigerate the baked custards for at least 4 hours. Sprinkle some demerara sugar on top and burn with a torch or under a hot broiler.

Chamomile Shortbread

110 grams butter
80 grams sugar
1 organic egg
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 Tbs chamomile leaves
175 grams flour
pinch of salt

Cream the butter and the sugar. Add the egg and mix. Scrape the bowl. Add the flour, salt, lemon zest and chamomile leaves. Mix until combined.

Place dough on parchment paper and roll into a log that is about 1 inch thick. Wrap it in the parchment paper and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

Slice the log, place the cookies on a sheetpan lined with parchment or silicon mat and bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes or until slightly golden.


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50 Responses to “Lemon Verbena and Chamomile Creme Brulee for the Soul”

  1. Peabody says:

    Well, I loved lemon verbena in my cupcakes so I bet they are fabulous in creme brulee! Fantastic. I love the use of the herbs.

  2. Evelin says:

    Although I am used to drinking chamomile tea when I feel sick, I also love to use the herb in cooking. I was actually planning to make creme brulee with it myself!:)

  3. What a beautiful message and what delectable goodies. Thank you for sharing, as always.

    p.s. the creme brulee pot is just gorgeous! where did you find it and what was it’s original use?

  4. enza says:

    grandmother are the same all over the world! :D
    chamomille remember me an important work meeting, few minutes prior it I was in a chamomille field picking up a huge bounch

  5. I love this, when you take a familiar flavour for some reason and use it to do something exceptional. yes beacuse a creme brulée in all it’s simplicity it’s a exceptional thing and this one must taste amazing and so fragant!

  6. Christy says:

    Where did you get that adorable container from??

    Your photos are as soothing as chamomile tea itself! I feel a lot better already after seeing them!

  7. Aran says:

    Thank you everyone for your nice comments. The containers are charlotte molds and as the name says, they are intended to biuld charlotte’s in them. I got mine at the Sur La Table store but I didn’t see any in their online shop. I’m sure many other kitchen supply stores will carry them.

  8. Ann says:

    So when are you publishing your cookbook? I love, love, love this herbs and sweets streak you’re on right now!

  9. nadia says:

    Aran this looks lovely and sounds very warm and special. I love the photographs and all the different elements you have used.

  10. Lovely! My chamomile hasn’t flowered yet either. Maybe I’ll use the leaves to make ice cream. Do you think that would work?

  11. Mmmm…my soul feels nourished already! I drink cammomile usually only in winter when it is cold. I’m a water drinker in the summertime.

  12. Bea says:

    A lovely dessert Aran, as usually found on your delicious blog.

  13. Patrick V. says:

    Great pictures, nice receipies…
    I can almost feel the taste in my mouth…
    I’m visiting your blog for the first time and with a great pleasure!!!

  14. Camille says:

    Whenever I had a cold I was given chamomile tea. Mint tea also comes to mind, given to me whenever I had a stomach ache.

    The creme brulee looks heavenly.

  15. Can I take some chamomile flowers ?

  16. Fuji Mama says:

    I fell in love with chamomile while living in France years ago. Mmmm. Thank you for a beautiful post!

  17. Kim says:

    Aran- Again I love the use of herbs for desserts and need to think that way. Your photos are very charming and welcoming, you have a great eye. And a great hand as your pastries are wonderful. Thanks for delighting us with your talents.

  18. Tartelette says:

    Lady, you need to tkae J. and come here for the farmer’s market, you will go insane with the herb dude: he has so much lemon verbena and chamomille that he was almost giving it away!! You’re right, there is everything to love in a concoction of both, especially while looking at the rain, wink wink!!

  19. Eileen says:

    You posted some fabulous-looking recipes and gorgeous photos while I was gone! I have to cut back on my baking now that I’m home, since it is finally summer in Minnesota and my kitchen gets far too warm for turning on an oven.

    Eileen (passions to pastry)
    http://www.livingtastefully.com

  20. This is such a beautiful recipe and lovely post. Made me feel comforted absolutely.
    And you know, I was just looking at the chamomile at the farmer’s market on Saturday-it always reminds me of my German grandmother–I thought I’d wait to buy it for a few days to figure out what to do with it besides making iced tea so this post was sort of serendipitous. Am going to try it for sure since I have so much lemon verbena growing out of control–might be nice with pineapple sage as well?

    We’re going to make your Matcha Diamants tonight—any suggestions for making it gluten free? I must eat these!!!

  21. Aran says:

    BonBob Oiseau- definitely use an all purpose gluten free mix. They should really work!!! Please let me know when you make them ok? I’d love to see how they turned out!

  22. Beatrix says:

    Querida Aran,

    Ultimamente me descubro visitando tu blog, no es busca de las maravillas que compartes con nosotros, sino mas bien, como si tu espacio fuera un oasis de caramelos y miel, donde no importe como nos tire la vida, aqui, todo es dulce…

    Me uno a ese grupo de personas a las que la vida nos esta recordando cuan fragil es, sin duda en busca de un momento de dulzura es que vine a visitarte y me encuentro con este post tan apropiado. Gracias.

    Ya estare preparandome un te…

    un abrazo,

  23. I love it that you paired the brulee with shortbread. And I’m intrigued by the use of chamomile in baking!

  24. zoebakes says:

    Simply gorgeous. The idea, the execution, it is really wonderful.

  25. What a great story to go along with your dessert! I definitely think that some of the best desserts come from playing off our past memories!

  26. Carmen says:

    Hola Aran, es la primera vez q escribo, pero visito tu blog casi a diario desde hace meses…me encanta todo, los postres, las fotos…y lo que escribes me llega.Saludos desde Suiza

  27. matt wright says:

    Looks amazing – great photography as well.

  28. I love your little creme brulee pots. Those are darling. I can remember a lot of peppermint from my childhood. That was a staple remedy in my family. The combination in this creme brulee sounds so comforting and uplifting. I love it.

  29. Creme brullee is my absolute favorite. And those little pots you have them in are so dear!

  30. Mobula says:

    Hay veces que no se que decirte, me quedo embobada mirando las fotos de tus maravillas y mentalmente intento hacer un huequecito para poder hacerlas todas y cada una de ellas… me encantan… me gusta como usas las hierbas en la pastelería… me da envidia tu menaje, aqui es imposible encontrar cosas como las que usas…

    Un gran beso y… ya me irás contando…

    Ana

  31. Mrs.French says:

    Such a kind post!

  32. giz says:

    Such nice combinations of flavour -both verbena and camomille are dreamy soft types of tastes. Love it.

  33. Aran, so so nice and what wonderful memories, thyme plants remind me of my grandfather and I always have on in the kitchen to smell. There are nothing like the memories smells can invoke.

    Making creme brulee myself at the weekend hopefully for the first time ever so kepp your fingers crossed for me.

  34. Candace says:

    Looks fantastic! Its funny… I’ve just started to like Chamomile. Also hated it as a child!

  35. Mandy says:

    I love to incorporate herbs and tea leaves in my baked goods too. While I haven’t seen any lemon verbana here yet, the chamomile shortbread is one that I would to try. Great photography, as always.

  36. Zooey53 says:

    Two of my favorite flavors! I can’t wait to try them, they look beautiful.

  37. Jill says:

    Last night we were watching a stupid reality show after the kids went to bed and at the end for no known reason they all sat and ate creme brulee. I told my husband (you know who) that I would love to have a creme brulee right now. Of course if I were you I probably would have gotten up and just whipped one up! You kill me. Perfect combo of ingredients and pictures that make me drool. LOVE IT!

  38. cookworm says:

    That second picture in particular is a real work of art. What cute cups, too!

  39. Thanks for the tip about the flour Aran—We made the dough last night and will bake today!
    The dough smelled so wonderful!

  40. cindy* says:

    aran,

    pretty little thoughts and aesthetics are what i have come to expect from canelle et vanille, and this is no exception.

  41. sara says:

    gorgeous post, photos and a recipe I am dying to make, I adore your blog and am a new fan.

  42. Y says:

    Sounds like a comforting treat indeed. I have a lemon verbena plant on my balcony – great smell whenever you brush past the leaves.

  43. redmenace says:

    Your pictures are inspiring and lovely. I could eat the page!

  44. I tried the creme brulee sans chamomile, since I didn’t have any, but the Truck Patch Farms vendor at the Mount Pleasant Farmers’ Market in Washington DC had plenty of lemon verbena. I put it to soak in heated raw heavy cream from Pennsylvania, then realized I was out of sugar and spent the next hour and half walking up and down the street with my kids (they walk slow) looking to borrow sugar from a neighbor, so the steeping was much longer than the recipe suggested. Made a lovely creme brulee with a distinct and delicate herbal flavor. I imagine the chamomile lends an interesting additional note, I will look for it next time.

  45. Jaime says:

    An empty dish of creme brulee–the saddest sight in the world.

  46. Anonymous says:

    GREAT WORK! do you have any website where you purchase the jars, dishes, spoons, coper pots, ect
    they are so lovely. where do you get them?
    thank you

  47. Aran says:

    I don’t have a specific place where I get my dishes from. Sur la table, anthropologie, my mom’s old flatware drawer… many places and at the most unexpected times! thank you!

  48. Marta says:

    I’m trying this recipe right now Aran!

  49. Fe says:

    You recipes are always so delicious!! Can’t wait to try out this one. Not suppose you remember where you bought the ramekins with the little heart handles? Thanks!

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