I've had Creme Brulee on my mind for several weeks now. It was always one of those recipes that everyone else makes, but not me. I was always a little intimidated by it. So I just made up my mind that I was gonna do it. But first.....I need ramekins, and a chef's torch. Now I know you can do it under the broiler of an oven, but where's the fun in that? This gave me the perfect excuse for buying one! So I checked out Ebay, and Williams Sonoma(geez, ex-pen-sive!) and finally on a whim, I went to our local TJ Maxx and whadya know! I found a torch and 4 ramekins for a little over 10 bucks! Yay me! (Name that show.)
So then I set out to find the perfect Creme Brulee recipe. I looked at several, from Alton to Ina, and found they're pretty much the same everywhere. At least the basics are. Eggs, cream and vanilla extract, and some used vanilla beans. Pretty simple stuff. I finally found one that looked really good on Ezra Poundcake. If you've never been to her site, you must, MUST I tell you, check it out. Her photos are absolutely beautiful, and her recipes are pretty darn good, too. Just check this one out, and I swear to you, you will never look at Salmon the same way again. Seriously.
But, I digress. Rebecca made Creme Brulee from the book Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. As I happen to have that very same book, I decided to give it a go.
Oh. My. What have I been missing?! This was just so.....wonderful. It was smooth, creamy and vanilley(is that even a word?) and simply divine. And it was so easy! A little time consuming, but well worth it. My hubs on the other hand didn't really care for it that much. He said it tasted like vanilla pudding (men) and didn't like the caramelized sugar on top. He's a firefighter. You would think he would like anything that has to do with an open flame, but whatevah. All in all this was a great recipe and I will definitely make it again. Cause If I don't what else am I going to use that nifty little chef's torch for?
Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
The most efficient way to caramelize the sugar topping is to use a blowtorch (see page 475 of Baking: From My Home to Yours). If you don’t have a torch, you can chill the custards very, very well, then set them in an ice-cube-filled roasting pan and run them under the broiler. You won’t get as even a coating with the broiler as you would with the torch, but you’ll still get the flavor and the pleasure of a crackly sugar crust over cream custard.
Note: The best baking dishes for crème brûlée are shallow, ideally just an inch (2,5 cm) high, about 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter and holding about ¾ cup of liquid. Porcelain, pottery or glass gratin or baking dishes are perfect, but if you don’t have them, you can use ramekins or even disposable aluminum foil pans, an unglamorous but effective solution.
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
½ cup whole milk (Note: I didn't have any whole milk in the house, so I used all heavy cream. It turned out perfectly.)
3 large egg yolks
1 / 3 cup sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
About 6 tablespoons sugar or sifted light brown sugar, for topping
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 200ºF/ 93ºC.(Another note from me: This wasn't nearly long enough to bake the custards. I checked them after 50 minutes and they weren't anywhere near done. I cranked the oven up to 250 degrees and baked them for about 20 more minutes and that worked perfectly.) Put the six baking dishes (see Note above) on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Bring the cream and milk just to a boil.
In a 1 or 2-quart glass measuring cup or in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla together until well blended but not airy. Still whisking, drizzle in about one quarter of the hot liquid---this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the cream and milk. Give the bowl a good rap against the counter to de-bubble the custard, then strain it into the baking dishes.
Bake the custards for 50 to 60 minutes, (see my note above) or until the centers are set---tap the sides of the dishes, and the custards should hold firm. Lift the dishes onto a cooling rack and let the custards cool until they reach room temperature.
Cover each custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably longer. (The custards can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.) For the sugar to be successfully caramelized, the custards need to be thoroughly chilled.
Makes 6 servings.
Serve the crème brûlée when the crème is really cold and the brûlée is still warm. You can serve the whole dessert chilled, but the sugar topping won’t have its characteristic crackle. And while I think crème brûlée should be served with nothing more then a spoon, you could offer berries and cookies as accompaniments.
The custard for crème brûlée must be made ahead so it has plenty of time to chill, but once you’ve caramelized the sugar on top, your storage time is over if your want the sugar to have crunch.