Houston Pastry chef Rebecca Masson may be a dessert traditionalist, but she can be swayed. “I have had many ‘arguments’ on why crème brûlée shouldn’t be messed with. It’s perfect the way it is. That said, sometimes a little variation brings new light to a classic.” As owner of Fluff Bake Bar in Houston, Texas, Masson has plenty of room to experiment on her own, but her spin on crème brûlée comes from a past mentor. “I made this dish while working at Catalan,” she says. “Chris Shepherd, then the chef there, was doing a lot with pigs at the time. The dish was a perfect sweet and salty finish to the meal.”
Meanwhile, Tim Bereika, chef at Union Table & Tap in Richmond, Virginia, also leaned savory with his version. “I decided to take the flavors of brûlée in a different direction,” he says. “I tried a handful of ideas before finally settling on Pad Thai.” The approach initially seems strange, but with flavors of ginger, lemongrass, tamarind, basil, and lime, Bereika creates quite the crave-worthy crème brûlée.