TOMATO CRÈME BRULEE
Ingredients for 6 1/2 cup ramekins or gratin dishes:
1 pound tomatoes
1/4 cup water
1/2 vanilla bean, split (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1/3 cup sugar plus 6 tablespoons
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
6 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Core and cut up the tomatoes. Place them in a saucepan with water and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook slowly for 15 minutes. Put the tomatoes and juices through a food mill to remove skin and seeds. You will have about 2 cups tomato puree. Add the vanilla bean and reduce by half over medium high heat, stirring regularly.
Remove the vanilla bean, pour the concentrated tomato puree to a bowl and stir in 1/3 cup sugar. Sir in the whipping cream and egg yolks. Strain the custard into a clean bowl. Add vanilla extract if you have not used a bean. Divide the custard among 8 1/2 cup ramekins or 6 shallow gratin dishes.
Place dishes on a bake sheet, and bake until the surface is set, 25 minutes for the gratins; 45 for the ramekins. Cool the molds on a rack, cover them and refrigerate until chilled. Divide the remaining sugar among the dishes and caramelize it with a small propane torch or under a broiler flame. Serve immediately.