Before I delve into the wonder that is Crème Brûlée, (which means “burnt cream”) here’s a reminder that my Giveaway is still going on. Click here to get a free pair of handmade earrings at no cost to you!
Also, check out Cheryl’s new post over at Prairie Maid. She has some great words of wisdom about being smart with your money!
This weekend was our February Girl’s Night Out/In. We go out to a restaurant and then come back in for dessert and drinks to my house. We used to cook and stay in, but then we thought..
And we thought…
And we came to the conclusion…why in the world would we want to cook on our night off?
So we headed out to Cafe 501.
And then came back home for Crème Brûlée.
If you’ve never had this dessert, you are missing out. It’s a rich and silky custard, and is capped off with a carmelized sugar layer that has a nice crunch when your spoon splinters through it to get to the luscious custard beneath.
I whipped this up Saturday and it wasn’t half as intimidating as I thought it’d be. You can do it too!
Start by cracking 9 eggs through a separator into a bowl. If you don’t have an egg seperator, you can use a slotted spoon.
Dump them into a mixing bowl, and attach your whisk attachment!
Add three-fourths of a cup of sugar.
Beat on medium-high speed (about 3-5 minutes) until the mixture turns from a yellow to a pale yellow.
While that’s beating, pour one quart of heavy whipping cream into a saucepan.
Turn the heat on medium-high until it gently bubbles. You do not want it to boil or it will overflow your pan and cause a horrific mess.
Trust me, I know these things.
Once it barely bubbles, remove it from the heat.
Enter the vanilla bean. The lovely, precious vanilla bean.
This little sucker set me back eight bucks. I justified it because I thought there were two in the jar. Then I opened it this weekend and realized it was one folded in half. I absolutely am going to try this next time with some good vanilla extract because I think it would work just fine. Don’t stress over the vanilla bean my friends. There are those who say the alcohol content will cause problems, but I am going to try it and I’ll let you know.
Anyway, take a very sharp paring knife, and slice down the center of the bean.
Than take the pointy end of your knife and press down and scrape the vanilla beans out from the pod.
If you’re going the vanilla extract route, wait until your cream and eggs are combined to add in a teaspoon of it..
Now scrape the other side of the pod and then using your finger, scrap the beans into your warm cream.
Toss the pod in also to allow the flavor to infuse. Let your cream sit for at least 15 minutes, whisking every so often so the top doesn’t form a “skin”. Then remove your vanilla bean pods with a slotted spoon.
While your vanilla bean is infusing, bring a teakettle or pot of water to a boil. You’re going to need this in a bit.
Preheat your oven to 325º.
Now, you’re going to add your cream to your egg/sugar mixture, but you don’t want to add your hot cream all at once, or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs, and we’re going for dessert here, not breakfast!
So we’ll add it a little at a time, mixing as we go. This is called tempering. Start by adding about one-half a cup and turn your mixer on low.
Add one more cup with the mixer still on. Mix for 10 seconds and then at this point, you’re probably safe to go ahead and add the rest of it. If you’re using your vanilla extract, now is the time to add it and mix it in well.
Once, you’ve mixed in all of the cream, you’ll need to strain it through a sieve, just to weed out anything that may have clumped up in your cream.
I didn’t have anything major to worry about, but your finished product needs to be silky-smooth, so do it just for kicks.
I poured my mixture into eight (4 oz.) four-ounce ramekin dishes, but you could use a variety of dishes, including six (6 oz.) ramekins. If you’re looking to buy some for Crème Brûlée, these would be your best choice, no question:
Why? You’ll soon find out, after you’ve tasted this loveliness. You really relish the crunchy, carmelized sugar-topping, and these style of dishes give you more surface area and therefore, more sugary-crispiness. It’s kind of like wanting more crust for your pot pie.
Just a tip for you Crème Brûlée newbies.
So now, we want to pour our mixture into our ramekins. I highly advise placing your ramekins in a shallow baking dish first to save transferring them later while full of liquid.
I started with one on the counter and quickly switched gears. Pour your mixture evenly among your eight ramekins (Adjust if using 6 oz. ramekins). I filled mine three-fourths of the way full.
Once you get them all filled up, take your teakettle and pour the hot water around the ramekins, being careful to not splash any water inside of them.
You want the water to be at the same level the cream comes to inside the ramekins. This allows for even cooking and keeps your custard nice and moist.
Pop them into the oven for about 40 minutes.
When you check them, they should be slightly firm without too much jiggle in the middle, but a little is okay.
Remove them from the oven and using tongs, take them out of the water bath.
Place them on a tray and put them in the refrigerator for 4 hours to chill down.
Just before serving, take your Crème Brûlée out of the refrigerator. It’s time to torch them.
My new toy. I know now why men get all testosteroney over power tools. I picked this up this weekend with a gift card to William’s Sonoma I received for Christmas and it’s ohhhhh so fun!
Scorching blue flame at the touch of a button!
You don’t have to have a torch, but doggone it, it’s really fun! If you don’t have a fancy kitchen torch, use your husband’s blow torch out of the garage and turn it down low. OR, you can just stick them under the broiler for a minute.
Now there is wide discrepancy over what sugar is proper for the topping of Crème Brûlée. Opinions vary from super-fine to brown to turbinado. I chose turbinado and it was fabulous. Better known as Sugar in the Raw, we sprinkled a good size tablespoon over each of our ramekins.
Take your ramekin and tip and twirl it around so that the sugar evenly coats the top of the custard.
If you’re going to use your broiler, pop these onto a baking sheet and broil them, watching them very carefully, until the top browns and bubbles. Don’t let them burn.
But if you’re welding the torch, do this…
I found that adjusting the flame to about three-fourths of the way up worked best. Keep the torch 2 inches away from the top of your custard. You’ll get a feel for it with a little practice.
Take your torch and moving it in a circle, flame all the sugar as best as you can on top of your dish.
Keep moving it until you get the top nice and bubbly and liquified.
Make sure you get around the edges as well.
Cindy and Nancy really flamed theirs and they were dark brown on top.
Glenda was a little more reserved.
I opted for somewhere in between.
Oh my gosh, was this good!
Now, follow along with me…
You take your spoon. And you crack it through this layer of glass-like carmelized sugar until it shatters open, revealing the most silky vanilla custard your tastebuds have ever been subjected to.
You will lift it to your mouth in anticipation of the delicious wonder you’re about to experience.
You simply have to make this.
You just have to.
It’s an elegant but fun way to tantalize and make your guests love you. Shoot, I love me for making this…
On account of, I got the leftovers Sunday in a moment alone.
And the blow torch?
I’m thinking about taking up welding…
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