Sunday, March 6, 2011

Simple Pleasures: Creme Brulee

It's about the greatest dessert on earth.  And surprisingly simple.  6 ingredients total for the entire dessert.  And you thought you had to wait until your next trip to a fine restaurant?  No way.  It's a little like my Chocolate Souffle recipe.  It only sounds fancy when in fact this is not a difficult recipe to make.  Creme Brulee is French for "burnt creme."  It's a custard base with a caramelized layer of sugar on top.  The best part about this dessert besides eating it, is it can be prepared well in advance.  In fact in requires chilling for several hours.  That means you can make these the day before you want to serve them and all you have to do is caramelize the sugar before taking them to the table.  What are you waiting for?  Let's get started.  If you hurry you can have one for breakfast.

The Creme Brulee Line-Up...Only 6 ingredients!
Combine cream and salt in a saucepan.
In a mixing bowl combine egg yolks and sugar.
Bring cream to a simmer but do not boil. 
When the little bubbles start to form around
the edges of the pan, it is just about to the simmering point.
Remove cream from heat and gradually
add egg yolk mixture.
Stir gently until sugar is dissolved.
Stir in vanilla.
Fill 6 heatproof ramekins or
custard cups with mixture. 
I have these cute little heart shaped ramekins
If you don't have ramekins, never fear,
I have made this same recipe before and omitted
the ramekins and poured the entire mixture
into a casserole dish.  It isn't as fun as individual servings,
but it tastes just as good!
Place ramekins on a jelly roll pan and place in oven. 
Pour hot water around the ramekins.
(The water bath, or bain marie method is used
to keep a crust from forming on the outside
of the custard before the interior is fully cooked.)
Cover loosely with foil and bake 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Look how perfect they came out.
See?  I told you it was easy!  Chill for several hours.
When it's serving time, top each custard with
1 tablespoon brown sugar, spreading evenly to cover.
Caramelize the sugar with a culinary torch
(You can also use your oven's broiler, as described below.)
The idea is to have your custard remain cold
with a hard sugar crust on top. 
This is one of the best things ever invented. 
I know this, because I ate the one in the picture for breakfast. 
The recipe said "Serve Immediately."

Creme Brulee

3 cups heavy cream
dash salt
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a medium saucepan, combine cream and salt. Cook over medium heat until cream begins to simmer, but do not boil. In a mixing bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar, stir well. Remove cream mixture from heat. Gradually add egg yolk mixture; stirring gently until sugar dissolves. Stir in vanilla. Fill 6 heatproof ramekins or custard cups (6-8 ounces each) with mixture and place on a jelly-roll pan. Place pan in oven and pour hot water into jelly-roll pan until water reaches halfway up the outside of the ramekins. Cover loosely with foil. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove ramekins from oven and cool. Chill for several hours or over night. Before serving preheat broiler for 10 minutes. (If you have access to a culinary torch, you can omit the broiling step.) Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of brown sugar evenly over tops of custards. Place ramekins as close to broiler as possible. It should take only a minute or 2 for the sugar to melt and caramelize. Watch carefully so it doesn't burn too much. Remove when tops are browned evenly. Serve immediately.

Prep Time: Approximately 25 minutes Cook Time: Approximately 1 hour 15 minutes


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