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Elderflower Crème Brûlée

Chris Holdham

30 May 2024

Foraging for Floral Flavours: Elderflower Crème Brûlée

Foraging for Floral Flavours: A Vegan Elderflower Crème Brûlée

Elderflower blossoms in bloom

Summer's arrival paints the landscape with fragrant blossoms and among the most delightful is the elderflower. These delicate, creamy-white flowers offer a sweet, floral aroma that hints at honey and citrus. While enjoyed for centuries in cordials and syrups, elderflower's delicate essence can also elevate a classic dessert into a vegan masterpiece: the elderflower crème brûlée.

Discovering Elderflower's Hidden Treasures

Elderflower (Sambucus nigra) flourishes along hedgerows, woodland edges, and even in urban gardens. The creamy-white compound umbels (flower clusters) bloom from late May to early July, depending on the region and weather.

Tips for Harvesting Elderflower:

  • Time of Day: Harvest in the morning after the dew has evaporated but before the sun becomes too strong.

  • Choose Carefully: Select fully open, fragrant umbels free from any browning or wilting.

  • Gentle Hands: Cut the umbels with scissors or shears, leaving some behind for wildlife and the plant's reproduction.

  • Proper Storage: Use fresh elderflowers as soon as possible. If storing, spread them out on a clean cloth in a cool dry place for a few hours.

Crafting a Vegan Elderflower Crème Brûlée


  • 750ml vegan cream (some reserved to mix with arrowroot)

  • 2 Elder flower heads

  • 2 teaspoons of raw cane sugar (adjust to taste)

  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder

  • Raw cane sugar for topping


  1. Infuse the Cream: Gently heat the cream, elderflower and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until warm and fragrant. Do not boil.

  2. Thicken with Arrowroot: In a separate bowl, whisk together the arrowroot powder and reserved creme. Gradually add this mixture to the warm cream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.

  3. Cook and Thicken: Continue cooking the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens to a custard-like consistency.

  4. Strain and Chill: Strain the creammmix through a fine-mesh sieve into individual ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until set.

  5. Caramelize and Serve: Just before serving, sprinkle each ramekin with a thin layer of raw cane sugar. Using a kitchen torch (or under a grill), carefully caramelise the sugar until golden brown and bubbly. Enjoy immediately!

This vegan elderflower crème brûlée captures the essence of summer in a creamy, floral embrace. The delicate sweetness of the elderflower, combined with the creamy custard base, creates a dessert that's both elegant and comforting. With a little foraging adventure and simple kitchen magic, you can enjoy this delightful treat!

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