If you guys have been following me on Facebook, then you would know I had posted a picture of this crème brulée dish quite a while back hoping that I will post the recipe soon. But, as you can see the blog has been unattended for quite some time now. Between a wedding in the family and my niece’s second birthday and travelling from Indian city to another, I hardly got time to work on my blog posts.
Before leaving for India, I had stocked up on some completely photographed recipes, knowing well that I will not be able to cook or shoot anything while in India, but hoping that at least I would get some time to sit online and draft my posts. But unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately that India has kept me that busy), I have not been able to find any time for the blog. And thus I have plenty of pending posts now. This crème brulée dish is just one of them.
From my macaron making efforts, I had quite a few egg yolks left. Trying to figure out what to do with them, the idea of crème brulée came up. I have been fascinated by this dish for the longest time, probably because I have read its the most basic thing every pastry chef/cook should know and should know well.
The only reason why it took me so long to give it a go in my own kitchen was that I did not have a kitchen torch, and to get that perfect even caramelization of the sugar I always assumed you NEED a kitchen torch. And well, true, while a kitchen torch would be the ideal thing to get the perfect crème brulée, you do not NEED need a kitchen torch to make your own crème brulée at home. This post from thekitchn.com states just that. (FYI, the article also carries some useful tips on making perfect crème brulée.)
While I followed the tips for browning using the broiler setting of the oven from the above article, for the recipe I referred to Alton Brown’s video on foodnetwork.com. With quite a lot of five star reviews I knew I would be safe with this recipe and I think I was.
I have only once had crème brulée before, probably because I am not a custard-ey person and never thought I would like it. But the one time I have had it, it changed my view of custards or at least custards that are baked and have a burnt sugar crust.
With the perfect crackle sound as I dug my spoon into the sugar crusted custard, each bite was heaven. I did not get a shattering sugar crust in each bite I took of my homemade version of the dessert, but I am happy to say I got a few. But then again without a kitchen torch in my hand I was not trying to achieve perfection. All I wanted was something that tasted good and this dish fit the bill. Of course if you have a kitchen torch, I envy you (and if you stay close by could I borrow it). But for those of you who don’t, rest assured, it doesn’t mean you have to get one to enjoy this dessert. Its a little more tricky, but hopefully you won’t be disappointed.
- 1 quart heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 1 cup vanilla sugar, divided
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2 quarts hot water
- Preheat oven to 325 F.
- Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Remove from heat, and let sit covered for 15 minutes. Remove vanilla bean and reserve for another use.
- In a bowl, whisk only ½ cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and they start to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into 6 (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins. Fill the ramekins as close to the edge as you can.
- Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot/boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake just until the crème brulée is set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes. The time taken will depend on the depth of your ramekins. Shallow dishes will cook the custard quicker, about 30 minutes. Taller dishes will require the custard to bake for 45- 50 minutes.
- Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
- Remove the crème brulée from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top. Divide the remaining ½ cup vanilla sugar equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.
- When ready to make the sugar crust, take the ramekins out of the refrigerator and dab their tops dry of any moisture or condensation.
- Sprinkle a fine layer of sugar over their tops. The key here is for the sugar layer to be of even thickness. Sprinkle the sugar then shake them back and forth to distribute the sugar evenly. Tap out any excess sugar; you should be able to almost see the custard through the thin layer of sugar.
- Move the top rack in your oven up as high as it will go. Place the ramekins in the oven on the top rack, and turn on the broiler. Broil for 5 to 10 minutes, rotating them frequently so that they broil evenly. Take them out when they are golden brown and bubbling.
- thekitchn.com article mentions that you can put an upside-down pie pan in the oven to raise the custard up even closer to the broiler. This can help speed the broiling process.
- Also, traditional crème brûlée is served cold. If you like it cold, place the ramekins back in the refrigerator for maximum 45 minutes. Any longer and the sugar crust may begin to soften. If, however, you like them lukewarm in the center you may serve them after the sugar has set (about 5 minutes).
Do check the following links to help you perfect this recipe:
- Alton brown’s video on getting the perfect crème brulée
- thekitchen.com article on getting a shattered sugar crust in your oven without a kitchen torch.