Food

Creme Brulee

Creme brulee is one of my favorite desserts. A) It is light enough to eat after consuming your weight’s worth at dinner. B) Who doesn’t love tapping that burnt sugar topping?

Unfortunately, creme brulee does take a good deal of knowledge to do it right, so I am adapting my recipe from three different websites listed at the very bottom. I would like to thank them for their help.

My recipe for creme brulee makes 6 small ramekins worth of creme brulee. My recipe is so small because I am watching my figure and only have 4 small ramekins myself. I list below the ingredients and the equipment I used. In parentheses are optional adaptions for the chef with more expensive tastes and a larger and more well equipped kitchen.

Ingredients

1 pint heavy whipping cream — room temperature (or heavy cream)
1 vanilla extract (or 1/2 a vanilla bean, split and scraped)
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided (or turbinado sugar)
3 large egg yolks — room temperature
1 quart hot water

Equipment

1 small pot and 1 large pot for double boiling (or a double boiler)
1 toaster oven (or oven)
1 medium ceramic bowl for whisking the egg yolks
1 hot plate (or stove)
1 whisk
1 butterfly whisk (1 spatula)
(NO TORCH NEEDED)

Directions

Preheat the toaster oven to 325 degrees F. Other recipes may call for 350 degrees F, but 325 degrees F is preferred to prevent curdling.

The key to making creme brulee is not to overdo things. Do not overheat. Do not over-whisk. Patience makes good creme brulee.

First, fill the medium pot 1/2 full with water and set the it to boil at medium or medium-high heat.

Second, take the cream and eggs out of the fridge and warm both to room temperature. Preferably, leave them in an open area near the stove where they can get warm but not hot.

Third, separate the eggs and beat the yolks until light yellow and foamy. This may take a little time if you are whisking by hand. If you are using an electric mixer, use a medium-low setting. Be careful not to over-whisk. Mix in 1/4 cup of sugar.

Next, pour the cream into the small pot and set it over the medium pot. Double-boiling, whether using two pots or a double-boiler, prevents risk of burning the cream by allowing it to heat up slowly. Add the vanilla and wait for the cream to start steaming. Stir regularly to prevent the cream from burning, remembering to scrape the bottom of the pan. Wait until the cream has reached 140F — not boiling — to remove the pot from heat. Without a thermometer you can test the temperature by dipping your index finger slightly in the cream. When it becomes too hot to hold your finger there for more than two seconds, the  temperature should be about right. CAREFUL NOT TO BURN YOURSELF. If you see that the cream is simmering is way past 140F. Cover the pot and allow it to sit for 15 minutes.

Add a little cream to the yolks to temper them, stirring continually. Then add a little more cream. It is important to gradually get the eggs up from room temperature, otherwise they will cook too fast and curdle. When you have poured about half of the cream in to the yolks, pour the yolk mixture back into cream in the pot and keep whisking.  Turn on the stove to medium-high and warm it over the medium pot. Warm slowly,stirring constantly until the temperature reaches 175°F. Watch the mixture. You want it to get near a simmer. The cream mixture has a high chance of curdling now if you aren’t careful.

Pour the liquid into 6 small ramekins. Now comes the baking part where you place the ramekins into a cake pan or roasting pan and put them in the oven. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the creme brulee is set, until almost set in center and light golden on top, about 45 minutes. If after 45 minutes they have not set, raise the temperature to 350F and bake for another 30 minutes or so until they set. Ovens can vary in actual temperature. It is better to under-heat them that overheat them since overheating will lead to curdling.

Baking some creme brulee!

Baking some creme brulee!

Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Remove the creme brulee from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top. Divide the remaining 1/4 cup vanilla sugar equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top.

Take the oven rack and move it to its highest level and set the oven to the highest possible temperature — a broil. In about 1 to 2 minutes the sugar should begin to bubble. Watch out — sugar burns easily and ovens are known for heating unevenly. One ramekin might be done before another! Browning is beautiful, but the sugar can blacken. Take them out of the oven and refrigerate them until topping hardens in 1 to 2 hours.

If you did everything right, when you take them out and tap your finger, you shall find a hard, shiny, caramel surface.

This might sound like a difficult recipe at first to master, but as you can see from the list of ingredients and equipment used, creme brulee is simple once you know what to do! If you are anxious about trying this recipe, bake the ramekins in batches so if you curdle the first few, you can save the rest. I call this the “Space Monkey” technique.

I will definitely be making this again. I have already eaten 4 of my 6 the creme brulees!

Sources:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/creme-brulee-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Creme-Brulee-with-Berries-108588

http://indirectheat.blogspot.com/2009/11/creme-brulee.html

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