Creme Brûlée

This is a great party dessert. People love crème brulee with its creamy cold custard and brittle caramelized sugar topping that cracks when hit with a spoon. The best part is the show when you caramelize the sugar with a torch. Have your guests gather to watch. As you pull out a welding butane torch and light it, everyone’s attention will be focused as they watch the sugar melt, turn brown, and harden. Expect a lot of accolades! This recipe is from my dear friend, Jayne Long. Enjoy!

Crème Brulee

1 ½  cups heavy cream
6 egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
Pinch kosher salt
1 Tablespoon Madagascar pure vanilla bean paste (Nielsen Massey) or 1 vanilla  bean (see “Tip” below for using a vanilla bean)
2 tablespoons liqueur, optional (I use Grand Marnier)
1 teaspoons sugar sprinkled on top of custard in each ramekin
Hot Boiling water for water bath
9 X 13-inch glass Pyrex pan plus 8 X 8-inch glass Pyrex pan and 8 (4-ounce) round ramekins
Butane welding torch

Bring 4 or more cups of water to a boil. Keep simmering on stove while you make the custard. In a medium saucepan, Bring cream to a simmer over medium high heat. While cream heats, mix egg yolks, sugar and salt with a mixer in another bowl until thick and color just begins to lighten. After cream simmers, mix ¼ cup of hot cream into egg mixture. Whisk until smooth. Add remaining cream slowly to egg mixture whisking the whole time, to temper eggs so they won’t curdle (turn into scrambled eggs).

Place 9 X 13-inch and 8 X8-inch pans on counter. (Please be careful, it is easy to burn yourself trying to get boiling hot water into the pans around the ramekins.) To not get burned, place empty ramekins in both Pyrex pans. Then pour the boiling water around the ramekins until the water goes half way up the side of the ramekin. Remove ramekins from pans. If any water gets inside the ramekins, dry them out with a paper towel. Place ramekins back in hot water.

Pour hot custard into a measuring cup with a spout. Divide custard evenly between 8 ramekins. Bake 300ºF for 40- 50 minutes. Remove pans from oven. To keep the creamy texture don’t cook the Brulee’s until they are completely done. The custard should still jiggle in the middle. (It will continue to cook until the ramekins are cool enough to handle and get out of the pan while still hot. Ramekins should still be hot enough that you will think you will burn yourself when taking them out.) Cool then refrigerate ramekins overnight or up to 3 days.

Jayne doesn’t use the oven’s broiler to caramelize the sugar. She says it heats up the custard and causes it to cook more and not be creamy. Instead she uses a butane welding torch. She doesn’t like the small hand held torches because they won’t caramelize many ramekins! Remove ramekins from refrigerator and place on a rimmed metal sheet pan. Remove any moisture on top of custard with a paper towel. Sprinkle each  ramekin with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Turn on torch. As you caramelize the sugar, keep torch in constant motion to prevent burned spots. The sugar will turn into a brittle glaze of melted sugar that cracks when hit with a spoon. Run to the table and enjoy a fabulous dessert! Makes 8 Creme Brûlée’s

Tip: Garnish Crème Brûlée’s with whipped cream and fruit. You can use other liqueurs in place of the Grand Marnier (example: Kahlua).Vanilla bean paste can be found at the grocery store or online.  If you would rather use a vanilla bean in place of the vanilla bean paste; cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds with a knife. Place vanilla bean and seeds in the cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover and let steam 15 minutes. Remove vanilla bean and bring mixture back to a simmer before proceeding with the recipe.

Published in The News & Neighbor on August 5, 2020.

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