Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Creme Brulee

This week I found myself in possession of some ridiculously high quality eggs and cream. Again I thought that the best way to showcase the goodness/freshness of these things was to prepare something simple. Creme Brulee. I have loved it since I first tasted its eggy goodness in Paris back in the mid 90's. I don't remember having any experience with it before that, but once I discovered it, I noticed it on dessert menus everywhere. A great thing about creme brulee is that it appears to be a complicated thing to make, but it's not. Friends and roommates will think you are brilliant when you pull these out. Creme Brulee 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped 2 cups of heavy cream 1/3 cup vanilla sugar (+ more for firing the tops) 5 medium egg yolks Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bring 2 quarts of water to a simmer on the stove. Using a sharp knife, split vanilla bean lengthwise. Run the tip of the knife down the inside of the bean to scrape out the vanilla specks.
Throw specks and the scraped bean into 2 cups of heavy cream and bring to a boil on the stove. Once boiling, remove from heat and allow to cool for approximately 10 minutes.
In the meantime, whisk 1/3 cup of sugar with 5 yolks. Look at how bright orange these yolks are!
I know Penzey's sells vanilla sugar, but I just use stuff that I make at my own house by combining used vanilla bean pods with plain sugar. If you don't have vanilla sugar, you can use plain white sugar.
Stop whisking when the yolks and sugar begin to lighten in color. Remove the vanilla bean pod and slowly whisk the slightly cooled cream into the egg mixture.
Strain combined ingredients into a clean bowl.
Remove any air bubbles that have formed on the surface with a spoon.
At this point, the custard mixture should be smooth and silky looking.
Divide mixture between 4 ramekins, place inside a pyrex pan, and fill pyrex with simmering water until the water reaches a level that is about half way up the ramekins.
Bake in the hot water bath for about 40 minutes, until the custard is set, but still jiggly in the middle. Cool the ramekins in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Once cold, prepare for serving by sprinkling the tops with sugar (I use my vanilla sugar again) and fire the tops with a kitchen blow torch until the sugar melts. I understand that this can also be done under a broiler, but I have owned a kitchen blow torch ever since I can remember and have never tried it any other way.
Melting the sugar with a blow torch is awfully fun. A long, long time ago, I used to brulee the tops of jello pudding cups when I was feeling fancy.
Breaking the shell of the burnt sugar is another one of those awfully satisfying things to do.
I love the combination of shards of burnt sugar shell with the cool rich vanilla-y custard underneath. It's kind of unbelievable that 4 ingredients can turn out such a sophisticated dessert.

1 comment:

  1. That looks fantastic! I love creme brulee. Thanks for sharing.