Creme Brûlée Day 2022

Several years ago, I designated the day before Thanksgiving as Creme Brûlée Day. My extended family now observes it, naturally enough, by getting together and making the titular dessert while visiting, playing games, doing other Thanksgiving prep, and enjoying being together.

Part of the tradition is to devise new Brûlée recipes and try them out. In the past, we’ve come up with recipes for Mexican Chocolate (a keeper!), Sriracha (decidedly not a keeper), and Parmesan cheese (far better than it sounds).

This year, our experiments were all based on the same custard base:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 quart heavy cream

We tried even more variations this year than usual. After much deliberation, we settled on trying the following:

  • The aforementioned Mexican Chocolate. Still delightful.
  • Add 3tbsp of PB2 powdered peanut butter. We’d tried a peanut butter Brûlée a few years back and were pretty disappointed by it. This was hugely better — probably my favorite variation of the day. A bit like a Reese’s cup, but creamier.
  • Add 2tbsp of Anthony’s Cheddar Cheese powder. Like our parmesan experiment last year, the combination of sweet and salty was better than it sounds at first blush. Not bad, but not spectacular.
  • Add 1/3tsp of maple extract. A little of the flavoring went a long way, but it was extremely nice! As you might expect, very similar to maple creme candies.
  • Add 3tbsp of Kahlua. This was excellent; another favorite of the day. The sugar glass works really well with the flavors of the liqueur. Abby’s favorite, and Kris said it was restaurant-worthy.

We ate about half of the quadruple batch we made (having learned from years past), but still have plenty to take to our Thanksgiving feast tomorrow. A delightful time for both palate and soul!

Salsa Roja

This is a big batch of my go-to salsa for parties, family functions, etc. It’s easy, quick to make, and always gets compliments. The lime gives it a delightful brightness that makes it perfect for serving with chips as an appetizer, on a taco, or even on a burger.

3 lbs roma tomatoes
1 medium onion
3 serrano peppers (adjust for your preferred level of spiciness)
1 bunch cilantro
2 tsp salt
8 limes, juiced
2 tsp black pepper
4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic (optional)

Blend everything together in a food processor or high-speed blender. Put it in the fridge and let it sit for a day. (This allows the acids in the lime juice to cook the tomatoes and the flavors to blend.) Try not to eat it all in one sitting.

Mexican Chocolate Creme Brûlée

For this past year’s annual pre-Thanksgiving Creme Brûlée day, I improvised a Mexican Chocolate recipe. It was a new favorite, so I’ve experimented some more and pinned down the ingredients to share with the world. Enjoy!



  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 quart heavy cream
  • 2 tsp natural vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder


  • additional sugar


Preheat over to 375°

Whisk together sugar and egg yolks until they’re homogenous and lighten a bit in color. Add vanilla, cinnamon, and cocoa powder, and gradually add cream while continuing to whisk all ingredients together.

Pour mixture into ramekins. (Size doesn’t matter much, though I like shallower ones, as it maximizes the topping/custard ratio.) Put ramkeins in a roasting pan and pour enough hot water around the ramekins in the pan to cover the bottom half of the ramkeins. (Too little water and your custards will dry out. Too much and you’ll probably spill the water into the custard as you move it.) Bake for 45 minutes.

Refrigerate the custards for at least 2 hours, but not more than a few days. When you’re ready to serve, pull ramekins from the fridge and sprinkle a thin layer of sugar across the top of the custard. Then us a kitchen blowtorch or an over broiler to melt the sugar and form a layer of sugar glass across the top of the custard. (I prefer the torch, as I’ve had a hard time controlling the process with a broiler.) Allow creme brulee to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Piña de Gallo

Here’s a new recipe that I created for Mutual Mobile‘s annual Cinco de Queso competition. I’ve taken a couple of stabs at recipes that use pineapple for the sweetness before, but this is my favorite. (It’s also pretty much the easiest salsa recipe I’ve come up with to date.) Enjoy!


  • 2 20 oz cans crushed pineapple
  • 2 7.5 oz cans chipotle peppers in adobo
  • 1 bunch cilantro (discard stems)
  • 3 limes


Put the pineapple and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Juice the limes into the mix. Pick the peppers out of the adobo sauce and add them.

Now determine how much of the adobo sauce to add — the more, the saltier. The sauce from one of the cans tastes right to me, but you can add more or less depending on what you like.

Blend until smooth.


Salsa Cruda

Here’s another of my favorite salsa recipes: salsa cruda, or pico de gallo. This one actually violates one of my salsa-making commandments — get all the taste buds firing at once — by leaving out anything bitter. You can add garlic to fill that gap, but I find this combination without the garlic very nice.

2 lbs roma tomatos
1 medium onion
2-5 serrano peppers
1 bunch cilantro
2 tsp salt
2 limes

Chop tomato, onion, cilantro, and peppers. Mix together. Make the salt into a little pile in the middle of the mixture and squeeze the limes over the pile to dissolve the salt. Mix the salt and lime in, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge overnight. (It can be eaten immediately, but is better if allowed to sit for a while, as the acid in the lime juice cooks the vegetables a bit.)

Good with chips, on tacos, on meats, etc.

Lazy Salsa Verde

I have a treatise on making good salsa lurking at the back of my brain, to which some of my less-fortunate friends have already been subjected in fragmentary form over Mexican food. Until I get my magnum opus written up, however, I give you this — my favorite salsa recipe. The foundation of this green salsa is the tomatillo — a small, green tomato-like fruit that grows within a papery husk. It should be available in the produce section of good supermarkets.

1 pound tomatillos
3 cloves garlic
2 serrano peppers
2 limes
1 bunch cilantro
1/2 an onion
salt & black pepper to taste

Husk tomatillos.
Boil tomatillos, garlic, and serranos together in pot of water until tomatillos turn light green.
Put tomatillos, garlic, and serranos into a blender and blend until homogeneous.
Add cilantro, onion, salt & pepper, and juice from lime. Blend until onion chopped into fairly small pieces.
Cover and let cool before serving.

Good with tortilla chips, on chicken, and over enchiladas.