Crème Brûlée

How many of you know about my feelings regarding pastries and desserts? Right, I hate making them! They make me crazy! They are so easily ruined, or take way too much attention. I just don’t like making the doggone things! Have I mentioned that at my last position as a chef I was the Pantry Chef? And that I made, aside from all the salads and cold appetizers, the desserts? God has this great sense of humor!

There are some desserts that I actually enjoy making. These include brownies, pecan pies, Key Lime pies, and Crème brûlée. That’s right, Crème brûlée. I know, it seems so…so…so…Girly. Can’t help it. I love eating the stuff. I love making the stuff. I really love serving the stuff. Crème brûlée! Who’da thunk it? Not me, never in a million years.

Do you know what Crème brûlée is? I didn’t until I went to Culinary school, I know, pathetic, right? So, Crème brûlée is French for burnt cream. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it. Okay, so what it really is , is this really rich custard with caramelized sugar on top. The custard is usually flavored with Vanilla. The best uses whole vanilla beans, with the seeds scrapped out and cooked into the custard.  It, the custard, can also be flavored with lemon or orange zest, chocolate, coffee, and other fruit flavors. For my money, the vanilla version is the best, and since this is my blog, that’s what we’ll be making. Okay?

So, here we go:

Crème Brûlée

11 large egg yolks (you can save the whites and freeze them for later use)

1 qt Heavy Cream (at least 32% fat content)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 vanilla bean

2 qt non-reactive sauce pan (Stainless steel or nonstick)

Large non-reactive mixing bowl (stainless steel is best)

1/2 sheet pan

Butane torch

Preheat the oven to 325 F

Separate the eggs, putting the yolks into a nonreactive bowl (stainless steel or glass, not aluminum as it will discolor the mixture) This is where you could set aside the whites for later use.

Pour qt of heavy cream into a non-aluminum sauce pan and turn on to medium heat, watching to make sure that the cream doesn’t boil over. You do, however want it to come to a rolling boil, stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Split the vanilla bean down the center and scrape the seeds into the boiling cream, along with the seed pod.

Meanwhile whisk the eggs to the ribbon stage. Slowly add the granulated sugar and make sure that it’s incorporated into the eggs. The sugar should melt.

Slowly temper the cream into the eggs. Go slowly otherwise you will scramble the eggs. Whisk constantly as you temper in the cream and continue to whisk for at least 1 minute after the entire contents of the cream pot is in the egg bowl. You will see little black specks in the mix, along with the seed pod. Don’t worry, the specks should be in there, you can, however remove the seed pod. If you put that pod into a quart of milk and leave it over-night, you can put a little sugar in and have vanilla milk.

Take a ladle and pour uncooked custard into 4 oz ramekins. Place ramekins on a 1/2 sheet, place in oven and carefully add enough water to come half-way up the sides.

Bake until the centers are still jiggly. Remove and cool quickly. Keep refrigerated until quite cold.

Right out of the oven

To serve, remove from fridge, sprinkle sugar on the top and caramelize the sugar with the torch or by placing under the broiler. Be careful not to burn the sugar too badly.

Nicely Caramelized Sugar

So there you have it! Crème brûlée. See, isn’t that easy? It must be ’cause I can do it and I hate dessert making.

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Published in: on January 7, 2011 at 12:08 am  Leave a Comment  

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