Delicious crème brûlée has always seemed very fancy, very expensive and very complicated to me. Crème brûlée is really a multi-faceted sensory experience. The warm amber colours of the carmelized sugar lures your attention, the glass-like snap of the sugar as you break through to the custard below dances in your ears, the sweet yet slightly burnt taste dazzles your taste buds and finally the lingering creamy taste of the egg custard wraps around your tongue....perfection.
Until now, I had only ordered it in a restaurant. But that all changed when Santa left a little kitchen blow torch in my stocking! Last weekend, I finally got up the nerve to try to create my own crème brûlée at home. It was....spectacular! And more importantly...easy!
It is a great dessert as the custard can be prepared and baked the day before your dinner party leaving you more time and space for creating the rest of your meal. Just before serving you can torch the sugar layer and voila your guests will impressed will your culinary abilities and their tastebuds will forever remember your delicious creation. Whether or not you tell them just how easy it was, I leave up to you.
2 c whipping cream
1/2 vanilla pod, split, seeds scraped out (or a few drops vanilla extract)
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
1/3 c caster sugar or berry sugar
Raw or turbinado sugar
What to do
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Pour the cream into a heavy-bottomed.
- Split the vanilla pods down the middle with a sharp knife.
- Scrape out the seeds with the knife and add the seeds and the pod and the vanilla extract to the cream and milk mixture. Stir well to combine.
- Bring cream and vanilla to a simmer over medium heat. Don't bring to a full boil. You just want to scald it.
- Pour the caster sugar into the bowl with the yolks. Gently whisk together the egg yolks and the caster sugar until combined.
- When the cream and milk mixture has come up to a simmer, pour it through a seive into a large bowl. Discard the pod.
- Add 1/4c of the hot cream to the yolk/sugar bowl and mix well. Adding a little bit of the cream will bring up the temperature of the yolks and prevent them from scrambling!
- Add the rest of the cream and gently stir. (not too hard as you don't want to incorporate a lot of air into the dish).
- Ladle the brûlée mixture into 4 dishes. There will be air bubbles on top of the ladled egg mixture. Turn on your torch (following all safety rules) and quickly run the flame over the custard dishes. This will instantly remove the bubbles!
- Place the crème brûlée dishes into a deep baking tray or roasting pan and pour hot water into the tray, until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the dishes. The water bath will help the custard to cook evenly. Do not get water into the dishes!
- Place the pan into oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until set but still with a little wobble in the middle (like Jell-o).
- Cool for one hour and then place in fridge. This can be done the day before.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle raw or turbinado sugar on top of the brûlées. Pour off any extra. Wipe any stuck sugar off the sides of bowls. Heat the surface with a mini-blowtorch until the sugar melts and carmelizes. On a few patches slightly burn the sugar a bit more so extra crunchy bites form.