1 large or 2 smaller vanilla pods or a few drops of vanilla extract
5-6 free-range or organic egg yolks
100 g caster sugar, plus 40 g more, for topping
40 g fresh ginger, washed and chopped coarsely with the skin
4-5 green cardamom pods, smashed in a mortar
A good pinch of saffron powder
Pour milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan along with ginger and cardamom pods and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently scraping the sides of the pan clean regularly with the spatula. Cook until the milk is reduced to about 100 ml.
Cool slightly, then pour the mixture into the blender and blend. Pass through a strainer squeezing out as much of the milk as you can, and then discard the ginger and cardamom pulp.
Pour the strained milk back into the pan along with cream and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Split the vanilla pod/s with a sharp knife and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and the pods (or the vanilla extract) to the cream and milk mixture. Stir well to combine and slowly bring it to a simmering point.
Pour caster sugar into a bowl with the egg yolks and whisk together until well combined and frothy.
Pour the hot cream and milk mixture (along with the vanilla pods, if using) over the yolks and sugar. Stir thoroughly for a minute or two to dissolve the sugar. Add saffron as desired.
Discard the vanilla pod/s and pour the brûlée mixture into the serving dishes. Place them into a deep baking tray and pour hot water into the tray until it reaches halfway up the sides of the dishes.
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2. Place the tray into the preheated oven and cook the crème brûlées for about 30-35 minutes or until set firm but still with a slight wobble. Allow to cool.
You can place the brûlées in the fridge at this stage if you’re not serving them immediately but as soon as they are completely cool, cover them with cling wrap so the top does not dry out and they don’t pick up odours from the fridge.
For the topping, sprinkle half of the remaining caster sugar on top of the brûlées. Heat the surface with a mini-blowtorch until it forms a thin layer of caramel.
Sprinkle over the rest of the sugar and caramelize with the mini-blowtorch once again, to form a thick crunchy layer. The crème brûlées are ready to serve immediately or in two to three hours.