Saturday, December 6, 2014

Crème Brûlée, FTW

I'm going to apologize to anyone who checks out this blog on a regular basis (Donna, for example) and quite honestly, to myself for not attending it as I should. I have reasons though, not excuses. Lots of things going on in my world with no sign of slowing in the near future. The Horn Player and I love to be busy. But today I found a smidgen of time and that's reason enough to play in the kitchen.

I recently purchased one of those adorable little kitchen torches, however, it's still in the upper appliance cabinet. Today, I must test drive it on Crème Brûlée. What's not to like about a luxurious, creamy, decadent dessert using egg yolks, cream and sugar to their best advantage. Oh my goodness! What a happy dessert day. Besides, it's holiday time and my guys will love this fanciful dessert. Now where are my eggs...

Crème Brûlée

1 cup whole milk
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
Vanilla bean
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 large whole eggs
3 large egg yolks
Hot water for bain-marie
Sugar for garnish
Kitchen torch (oh boy)

Add the milk and cream to a pot, split the vanilla bean, scrape out the inside with the back of a knife and add it in. Drop in the pod to steep in the liquid for extra flavor. Add the salt and sugar and mix well. Bring to a simmer, dissolving the sugar. Beat the eggs and egg yolks well and when the milk/creme comes to the appropriate heat (do not boil, just a gentle simmer) retrieve about 1/2 cup of the liquid and slowly add to the eggs to temper. Remove the pot from the heat and add the egg mixture to the milk/cream in a small stream, stirring all the while. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl with a lip and pour into custard cups or Crème Brûlée dishes. Place the cups into a large baking pan and put into a preheated 325 degree oven. 

Note: It's safer to pour in the hot water after the baking pan has been placed on an oven rack. 

Add the hot water to the pan until it reaches half-way up the cups. Slide the little beauties into the oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes. The custard should be slightly wobbly, but set. Remove each cup very carefully to a rack to cool. After they have cooled, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 4 to 6 hours. 

Just before serving, sprinkle about a heaping teaspoon of sugar over the surface of each custard and dissolve with a kitchen torch or under the broiler. The sugar should be a golden caramel color with slightly burned spots. Allow the sugar to cool for a couple of minutes, serve and crack open one of the best desserts known to man. Yum!

Custard cups in a baking pan

Heating the milk and creme perfumed with vanilla seeds and pod

Beat the eggs well

Be very sure to include the straining step, this is why
Strained custard ready to pour

And into the little cups

Those little specks, vanilla

All filled and ready for the hot water ~ My little holiday candle was making me feel festive

Out of the oven...hanging out on the old butcher block
A thing of beauty...

...that won't last very long.

Oh, yes I did!

This is such an easy dessert and tastes like a million bucks. Its velvety custard set against the crackly sugar topping is just...well, perfect! Try it for an evening Christmas dinner and serve with rich, dark coffee. 

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