White Pepper Crème Brûlée with Fig and Prune Compote


2 Cups apple juice
3/4 Cup diced dried Calimyrna figs (about 5 oz)
3/4 Cup diced dried pitted prunes (about 5 oz)
1/2 tsp (tightly packed) grated orange peel

2-1/3 Cups whipping cream
1/3 Cup half and half
1/2 tsp Ground White Pepper
1 Vanilla Bean, split lengthwise
8 large egg yolks
1/2 Cup sugar

9 tsp raw sugar crystals or turbinado sugar (“sugar in the raw”)


For Compote:
Combine apple juice, figs, prunes and grated orange peel in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until figs and prunes are soft, about 10 minutes. Cool compote slightly. Transfer to small bowl. (Compote can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For custards:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Arrange six 3/4-cup ovenproof ramekins or custard cups in 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal baking pan. Combine cream, half and half, and white pepper in heavy medium saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean pod into cream mixture; add bean.

Bring cream mixture to simmer over medium heat. Cover; set aside 10 minutes to steep. Fish out and discard vanilla bean.

Whisk egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in medium bowl to blend, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk warm cream mixture into egg yolk-sugar bowl.

Divide custard mixture among ramekins. Pour enough hot water into baking pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake custards until contents are “set” in the center of each ramekin, about 35 minutes.

Remove custards from water; refrigerate uncovered until cold, about 2 hours. (Can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)

Before serving:
Preheat broiler. Sprinkle 1-1/2 tsp raw sugar crystals over top of each custard. Place custard ramekins on small baking sheet and broil until sugar melts and browns (“caramelizes”), rotating sheet for even browning, about 3 minutes.

Refrigerate custards, uncovered, until sugar-topping hardens, at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.

Serve individual custards topped with fruit compote