Lavender Creme-Caramel Tart


For crème caramel
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 ½ cups whole milk
3 tablespoons Steed & Company Culinary Lavender
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks

For pastry crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 ½ tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 ½ to 2 tablespoons ice water

Special equipment: a 10-inch glass pie plate (1 to 1 ½ inches deep), 9 ½-inch plate or cardboard round, and 10- to 14-inch flat serving plate with a slight lip

Garnish: fresh nontoxic and organic violets


Make crème caramel:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cook 1 cup sugar in a dry large nonstick skillet over moderate heat, swirling and shaking pan (to help sugar melt evenly), until sugar is melted and caramel is deep golden. Immediately pour caramel into pie plate, tilting to coat bottom and sides evenly.

Bring cream, milk, Steed & Company Culinary Lavender, salt, and remaining ½ cup sugar to a simmer and remove from heat. Let stand 15 minutes, then reheat. Pour through a fine sieve into a bowl, discarding lavender. Whisk whole eggs and yolks together in a bowl and slowly whisk in hot cream mixture. Pour custard over caramel.

Bake custard in a water bath in middle of oven until set but still trembling slightly (custard will continue to set as it cools), 40 to 45 minutes. Remove pie plate from water and cool creme caramel on a rack. Chill, loosely covered with plastic wrap, at least 2 hours.

Make pastry crust:
Blend together flour, sugar, salt, and butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle 1 ½ tablespoons ice water over mixture and toss with a fork until incorporated. Test mixture by gently squeezing a small handful: When it has proper texture, it should hold together without crumbling apart. If necessary, add remaining‚ tablespoon water.

(If you overwork mixture or add too much water, pastry will be tough.) Turn mixture out onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. Smear each portion once in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together and form it into a disk.

Chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 10 ½-inch round and slide onto a baking sheet. Trim dough to a 9‚-inch round (use 9 ½-inch plate turned upside down as a guide). Prick round all over with a fork and chill 30 minutes. Bake round in middle of oven until golden, 20 to 25 minutes, and cool completely on baking sheet on a rack.

Assemble tart just before serving:
Run a thin knife around edge of crème caramel and rotate pie plate back and forth to make sure crème caramel is loosened. Slide crust on top of crème caramel, centering it carefully, and invert serving plate on top of crust. Invert tart onto serving plate (caramel will run to edge of plate).

Cooks’ notes: You can make crème caramel and crust 1 day ahead, but don’t assemble until just before serving. Chill crème caramel and keep crust, covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Active time: 1 hr Start to finish: 3 ½ hr

Servings: Makes 8 servings.