There are some cats out there who think vanilla is the only flavoring that should come anywhere near crème brûlée. I pity them.
It was 2:30am the other day when I decided some crème brûlée would be nice, so I ran down to the corner store and picked up a pint of cream and some eggs and returned home to whip up a batch real quick. As I was reaching for the vanilla extract (vanilla beans are difficult to come by after midnight in this town), I spied a jar of cardamom in the background, and said to myself, "Hey!, I bet that would taste really great!", cardamom being my favorite spice and all. So instead of the vanilla, into the pot went half a teaspoon of ground black cardamom. It turned out even better than I had hoped. Here are the details:
In a one quart saucepan, heat the cream to just below boiling. Whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar to until smooth. Stir about half the hot cream into yolks to temper, then add this mixture back to the saucepan, and add a pinch of salt. Cook this mixture over a low flame, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken and coats the spoon. Strain into ramekins or other oven-proof crockery, and bake in a water bath at 300°F until set around the edges, about 40 minutes. Allow to cool, then chill for several hours. Before serving, sprinkle with sugar and caramelize the tops with a blowtorch in the usual manner. This goes well with a nice Sauterne or, even better, a four puttonyo Tokay.
Ok, I used pre-ground cardamom from a jar, but do as I say, not as I do. Fresh cardamom tastes far better. If you want to avoid black flecks and the possiblity of any grittiness in your brûlée you can add whole cardamom seeds at the end of cooking and stir for several minutes before straining the seeds out. You'll probably need at least a teaspoon, maybe more, of whole seeds for the same level of flavor. I'm sure this recipe would work for the no-bake method in sunpig's writeup as well.