Sunday, August 17, 2008
I think Creme Brulee is my favorite dessert. I don't make it as often as I would like because the best Brulee uses real vanilla beans and in case you haven't noticed, those are EXPENSIVE!
I recently posted though about a site I found where high quality vanilla beans can be purchased at very reasonable prices.
Therefore I'm going nuts with vanilla recipes now and the first one is Creme Brulee....
6 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1 tsp salt
2 vanilla beans
2 tbl additional vanilla sugar
In a bowl beat the six eggs and the sugar.
In a saucepan pour in the heavy cream. Split the vanilla beans down the middle and use the back of the knife to scrape out the seeds into the cream. Add the husks to the cream, and heat on medium just until it comes to a boil and immediately turn off the heat. Let it steep for up to half an hour.
Discard the vanilla bean husks and slowly add the cream/vanilla mixture to the eggs while beating the eggs. Go slow so as to not scramble the eggs. (Letting the cream sit for a half an hour aids in this process as well as allowing additional vanilla essence to be drawn into the mixture)
Add the salt and mix. At this juncture you may strain the creme brulee if you want, but I've never found that necessary.
Place ramekins or pyrex dishes in a roasting pan or casserole dish and pour the creme brulee into them. Add hot tap water to the pan or dish until it is equal to the level of the brulee.
Bake at 350 degrees until set and just starting to brown, 30 - 45 minutes depending on your oven.
Chill creme brulees for at least one hour.
Now the potentially tricky part......melt the sugar topping over the brulee. Now for years I did it using the broiler in the oven, and my only advice is, watch it constantly because once the sugar becomes molten it will brown and caramelize in like 10 seconds...... Nothing worse than BURNING a batch of freshly made Creme Brulee. And I've done it. More than once. Grrrr.
There are also butane torches you can buy to burn the sugar topping. I (ahem) of course, have one.
Sprinkle the top of each Brulee with a teaspoon of granulated sugar. For a special touch you can use vanilla sugar. Just store one or two vanilla beans in your sugar canister. Great for cooking, your coffee, etc.
Shake the ramekin around to as evenly distribute the sugar as evenly as you can.
Now brown the sugar under the broiler or with a torch to as brown as you would like it. Let chill for 10 minutes and serve.
You can store the Brulee's covered in the refrigerator, but the sugar will soften.
They are at their best when freshly burnt as the sugar is like a thin crunchy pane with wonderful egg custard below.