Creme brulee is my utmost favorite dessert. I order it every single time I find it on a restaurant dessert menu. Though it may appear intimidating to some people, I assure you, this is one of those times where it’s merely technique. A couple of staple ingredients and some patience (something I lack severely), and you too can master this luscious dessert. This is something I make for special occasions…Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays. I think there is just something so wonderful about making something as luxurious as creme brulee for someone you love. It’s a dessert that definitely says “I love you”. I will warn you, this is something you will want to cook a day or two before you actually plan to eat it. Like I said…patience. Trust me, it’s totally worth it.
- 10 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
- 6 tablespoons extra fine sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a heavy bottom sauce pan, over medium heat, heat the cream and vanilla bean and seeds until hot but not boiling, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow. Once cream is hot, pour through a fine mesh strainer into a large container, I use a large measuring cup with a pour spout to make pouring into ramekins easier. With mixer running, very slowly pour one cup of the cream mixture into the egg mixture. If you pour too quickly, you could scramble the egg yolks with the hot cream. Patience!! Once one cup of the cream is incorporated into the egg mixture, slowly pour the rest of the cream into the egg mixture until completely combined. Skim off the foam (just try and not eat that foam with a spoon…I dare you!) Ladle the mixture back into a container with a pour spout on it. Arrange the ramekins in a large baking dish with sides to it. Pour the custard mixture into the ramekins. Fill the baking dish with hot tap water until water reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. This will ensure even cooking of the custard. The water bath is called a “bain-marie” if you want to be fancy and impress your friends. Bake for 45-60 minutes. The custard should be set, but should also be somewhat loose in the center. I heard this description a few years back on how the custard should look when it’s done and it has always stuck with me. “It should jiggle like a breast”. I hope that doesn’t offend anyone because I happen to think that it is a perfect depiction of what you want to see in a perfectly cooked custard. Do not overcook it! Cool to room temperature and then cool completely in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight and up to 3 days, making sure to cover the ramekins with plastic wrap. When ready to serve, allow ramekins to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes and then sprinkle each ramekin with a tablespoon of extra fine sugar. Torch the sugar until dark amber with a kitchen torch. Allow burnt sugar to cool before serving, about 5 minutes. You CAN brown the sugar under the broiler, but this method doesn’t always work for me. Sometimes the heat from the oven ruins the custard, and ruined creme brulee custard is just….well….a crime. If you do not have a kitchen torch, you can easily buy one at your local kitchen store for $15-20. I say this tool is totally worth having in your kitchen, but if you want to chance it and use your broiler, by all means, be brave.