Polypody Crème Brûlée ‒ Kallioimarrepaahtovanukas

My spouse's sister and her kids came for a visit yesterday. Since it's always a great idea to try some completely new method of cooking when there are guests coming along, I decided to make a crème brûlée for dessert. Now, French style of cooking has always felt a bit bizarre to me, but perhaps it's just my mental image of how you always need to cook things several times, in most difficult ways and loose all nutrients and original aromas in the process. At least this one was rather easy at the end, though there was enough time for several points where I went certain the whole thing has failed miserably. Especially the flaming part was so fun I want to try it soon again.

Couple of days ago, we went to search for common polypody, a fern often referred with the name mesijuuri, nectar root. Its root is very sweet and tastes a lot like liquorice. I've wanted to try it out in cooking for a while, but now that it's autumn already it's starting to be the best time for root collecting. I find ferns in general quite hard to distinct, but this one looks so cartoonish and grows on bedrocks where you wouldn't imagine anything growing, it makes an exception. In those hills I knew I had seen it before, so we didn't have to come home empty handed. We found a fern-invaded rock where we were able to take couple of root pieces without killing the whole bush.

I've never had a crème brûlée before, so I'm not sure if this came out like it's supposed to, but all of us agreed it tasted wonderful. Especially the burnt sugar part. The root itself didn't taste nearly as much as I had hoped, but luckily I didn't filter out the pieces, so there were occasional occurrences at least. Although you could do this from regular vegetable milk, I recommend using the thickest and fattest cream you can find. (For my Finnish readers, I used the brand Sunnuntai.) That's kind of like the point of this dish. If you want a healthy dessert you can eat every day, go with juicy berries instead.

- 6 dl heavy oat cream
- 1 dl soy milk
- 1 common polypody root (or a liquorice stick)
- 3 tbsp vanilla sugar
- 1 portion of gelling agent (I used a carrageenan and carob mixture but good old agar should probably give you the least trouble)
- some regular sugar for the torching

Wash the root well and grind it as small as you possibly can. Mix your gelling agent in the milk as instructed. (Mine only said it should be used to replace gelatin, which was a bit of a thanks for nothing instruction for someone who's never even seen gelatin being used. But apparently you need to apply it a lot more than most gelling agents and it should be dissolved into cold liquid before heating.)

Add the root pieces and the sugar into the boiling milk. Remove from heat after the sugar has thoroughly dissolved. Add the cream and mix well. Pour into a small enough oven casserole or better even, ramekins for each eater. (At this point the stuff looked much firmer than after coming out from the oven. The baking part is worth it though, since it changes the structure quite a lot from a regular pudding or kissel.)

Place into a bigger casserole filled with water and cover with a tin foil. Bake for about 45 minutes in 160°C oven. Let it cool down and move into fridge for a few hours.

When the brûlée looks firm again and sticks in its holder even if you turn it upside down, sprinkle a layer of sugar on top of it. Caramelize it with a blow torch while the kid afraid of the thing isn't around watching. Serve while the bottom is still cold and the top is still hot. Discuss about who gets to crack open the tough layer.

Nutritional values / 790 g:
energy 1875 kcal
fat 122 g
protein 7 g
carbohydrates 182 g
fiber 3 g


  1. Wow, that picture is stunning!

    And I love licorice, so I'm fascinated by this polypody.

    1. Thank you! It's quite a widespread plant so hopefully you'll get to try it as well.


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