A couple weeks ago, I posted a review on Nordstrom Cafe. When I was there I ordered creme brulee. It was yum. I decided it was my turn to make this favorite dish. One reason I don’t make this dish often is that I hate using a torch. I improvised in this version. You will see later.
The key to making this creamy dish is to use real vanilla bean. The little black specks flavor this dessert without adding additional liquid. It is also important to use full fat cream. Without it, your dessert will be runny.
Split the vanilla bean in half with a knife and scrap the seeds out. Add this to the cream in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until light yellow.
The next step is important because you don’t want to cook the eggs. Add the cream slowly into the eggs mixing and whisk as you do so. I added the cream 1/4 cup at a time. When you are done, pour the cream into ramekins placed in a deep roasting pan. Bring the pan close to the oven before you pour in hot water. Fill the bottom of the pan with enough water so that it comes up about 1/2 way up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for about 1 hour. When I made these, they seemed to be runny and I cooked them longer. But don’t be deceived. When they cool, the custard will thicken. Take the custard out from the pan and cool on a rack. Place in the fridge overnight.
Here comes the experiment. (Sorry there weren’t many pictures. The sugar caramelized really quickly and then burnt before I could do anything about it.) The reason that I tried this was because: 1. I didn’t want to bring a torch to work (I work in a high school and I only have a welding torch), 2. I was serving the creme brulees right after school and I would not have time to make the sugary tops, and 3. the sugar will get soggy when refrigerated. I did search online to see if there are any ways to make this crust without a torch. Most said you can use a broiler, or the back of a hot spoon but I decided to be creative and combine creme de carmel with creme brulee. I first melt some sugar. Well first prepare your working station. I used silicone mats and I also tested one directly on the creme brulee.
Don’t add any water to the mixture. Stir the sugar until it turns a nice golden color. The picture here is not quite there yet, but you have to work quickly or the sugar will burn. So I didn’t take any picture in between. When the caramel is done, pour some directly onto the cooled brulee. You can set them by placing in the fridge for a couple minutes. To clean the sauce pan, soak in hot water. The sugar will just dissolve.
For the majority of the sugar, I poured them on the silicone sheets in small disks. I allowed them to cool. Actually I placed them in the freezer, but that was a bad idea since it made it really brittle and hard to peel of the sheets. Carefully with a flat spatula remove the sugar from the sheets. This was the hardest part and a few of them did break. But the results were pretty cool.
Store them in an air tight container. I separated the sugar disks using waxed paper. Do not press down on the sheets and store the waxed paper loosely in the container. The sugar will stick to the waxed paper a little. You can store these sugar disks overnight without any change to the texture. They are thicker than the normal creme brulee tops. When serving your creme brulee you can be creative and place the sheet decoratively or crumble it on top of the ramekins. Either way these treats will disappear.
Creme Brulee: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/creme-brulee-recipe.html
Go to the website to see a video of how it is made.
- 1 liter whipping cream (heavy cream)
- 1 vanilla bean
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- more sugar for the top
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Pour the cream, vanilla bean and its seeds into a saucepan. Slowly bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean.
In a medium bowl, mix together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks until it become a light yellow color. Slowly add the cream 1/4 cup at a time to prevent cooking the eggs. Pour the liquid into 6-8 ramekins placed in a deep roasting dish. Bring the roasting dish to your oven and pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the creme brulee is set, jiggly in the middle approximately 45 min – 1 hour. The custard will firm up once they are cooled. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
When you are ready to serve you can melt some sugar in a sauce pan until it is nice and golden. Pour onto the ramekins and set in the fridge for a couple of minutes. Serve these immediately. If you plan on making the sugar discs ahead of time, melt the sugar in a sauce pan and pour onto a silicone sheet. Allow to cool and harden. Using spatula, slowly and carefully peel them off. Store the disks in an airtight container separated with waxed paper. Decorate with the sugar sheets.
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