Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Easy Crème Brûlée - {Recipe} {Tutorial}

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Crème Brûlée (that's "fancyspeak" for baked vanilla custard with caramelized sugar on top) is my "go to" dessert when I need something really easy that can be made ahead and that nearly anyone of any age will eat.



Although my youngest believes that I make it solely because it's his favorite, the truth is that I make it because all of the ingredients are in the photo above. Yep, FOUR ingredients, that's it!

My recipe was adapted from a recipe that I had such a long time ago that I don't remember where it originally came from. There are thousands of recipes out there and they are all basically the same. Over the years, I've added ginger, white chocolate, mandarin oranges, chai spice, pears, and even Bailey's Irish Cream (for Irish Pot de Crème) to the recipe but no matter what I try,  I always return to this basic custard recipe.

 Ingredients:
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream (or milk if you want to be "healthy"; but it won't taste as good)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (plus 6 tablespoons Superfine sugar for the brũlée)
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise
Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place six ramekins (or four-inch diameter fluted glass flan dishes) in a 9x13 pan. (If you use flan dishes, you'll need two pans because only 3 will fit in each one.)
Make the custard:
In a heavy sauce pan, combine the the sugar and the cream.
With a sharp knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the seeds and the pod to the cream and sugar mixture.

Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to simmer. Cover the pan, reduce heat to very low and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture into a large measuring cup.


Whisk the yolks in a bowl until just blended. Temper the egg yolks by gently whisking about 2 tablespoons of the hot cream into the yolks then gradually whisk the eggs into the cream until just combined.  Divide among the dishes.

Add enough hot water to the pan to come about half way up the side of the dishes. Carefully transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 35 minutes for ramekins (or 30 minutes for fluted flan dishes).

 Using a spatula, transfer the dishes to a rack to cool for 30 minutes and the refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.
To make Crème Brûlée:
Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of sugar evenly over each custard. Working with one custard at a time, hold a blowtorch (kitchen torch) so that the flame is 2 inches above the surface of the custard and direct the flame so that the sugar melts and browns but doesn't burn. (you can also do this in your broiler but you need to be careful not to burn the sugar).
Refrigerate until the custard is firm again but the topping is still brittle. At least 1/2 hour but not more than 3 hours so that the topping isn't soft.  Garnish with fresh fruit.
I'll never forget the first time that I made it.  My youngest took a couple of bites and was enjoying every spoonful. Suddenly, he stopped,  looked in the bottom of the ramekin, then looked at me and said,  "Mommy, why'd you put PEPPER in the pudding?" The black "pepper," of which he spoke, of course, was the seeds from the vanilla bean. It's been years but I still smile when I reach the bottom of the ramekin and see the "pepper".



See?! Easy as pie custard!

xo,

S

Linking to:
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