Curtis Stone may be best known for his cookbooks, his restaurant, and his appearances on shows like Top Chef Masters and Celebrity Apprentice, but his journey to culinary stardom had very simple beginnings. He spent his childhood in the kitchen, learning to cook with his mum and his grandmother in Melbourne, Australia. It didn't take long for Stone to go pro: at age 18 he landed his first real restaurant job at the Savoy Hotel in London, the world class dining establishment that chef Auguste Escoffier – the father of modern French cuisine – put on the map in 1893 with some of his famous culinary inventions.
For Stone's summer dessert, he combines the “stodgy” traditional French crème caramel of his professional past with the passion fruit of his childhood in Melbourne. The flavorful fruits grew around his house, and he remembers his mum casually pulling them off the vine and digging right in with a teaspoon. Now he lives in California where he has his own passion fruit vine − a connection between the two places he calls home.
Despite his fame and many accomplishments, including hosting a new cooking show Top Chef Duels that premieres August 6, he still enjoys time spent at home with his family and the simplicity of pure, fresh ingredients. His 2 ½-year-old son Hudson is already an adventurous eater, but hasn’t tried passion fruit yet. This will be Hudson's first summer tasting them, and he’ll get plenty of opportunity, as this dessert is a favorite of Stone’s wife, actress Lindsay Price.
"Traditionally one might go for a sweet wine to play off the floral notes of the passion fruit," says Stone, but he’d personally choose to create contrast by opting for a glass of champagne. Cheers!
Serves: 4 in ramekins
7 ounces/200g sugar
5 passion fruits, pulp and seeds removed
1 cup/250ml heavy cream
1 cup/250ml whole milk
3 1/2 ounces/100g caster sugar
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 package fresh raspberries
To make the caramel
1. In a medium heavy saucepan, cook the sugar over medium-low heat without stirring until the sugar dissolves. Allow the sugar to continue cooking until it becomes golden brown.
2. Remove from the heat and stir in the passion fruit pulp and seeds.
3. Pour the caramel evenly into the bottom of 4 ramekins. Set aside to cool completely.
To make the crème
1. Preheat the oven to 250ºF.
2. In a medium heavy saucepan, stir the cream, milk, and sugar over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then remove from the heat and cool for about 5 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla to blend. Whisk in the warm milk mixture.
4. Strain the mixture through a sieve and pour it over the caramel in the ramekins.
5. Place the ramekins in a roasting pan or baking dish and set the pan in the oven. Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
6. Bake for about 60 minutes. To test whether the crème caramels are ready, push a small knife into the center of one of the custards and if the caramel rises out of the hole left by the knife, then they are ready.
7. Remove the crème caramels from the oven and allow them to set in the fridge overnight.
1. Run a knife around the inside of the ramekins and turn the crème caramels out onto serving plates. Garnish with fresh raspberries and serve.
For more recipes from Curtis Stone, check out his cookbook What's for Dinner? Delicious Recipes for a Busy Life.
From the Bio Archives: This article was originally published in July 2014.