If I had to choose between becoming a restaurant or pastry chef, without even thinking I would choose pastry. There is something so inviting about having exact measurements, it reminds me of a science lab report. You have materials (ingredients), a procedure (instructions), and, in my case, a conclusion (this blog post). While some people consider it irritating, I enjoy the simplicity of baking, such as crème brûlée.
Crème brûlée sounds and looks like one of the most difficult things to make. I thought this as I was getting out the eggs, cream, vanilla, and sugar. Then I realized that it only has four main ingredients, unlike other recipes that call for everything but the kitchen sink. I started by heating the cream and vanilla. I used vanilla extract but you can also use vanilla beans or paste. I boiled the cream slightly and left it to cool.
Then I whisked the egg yolks and sugar until they turned a light color and were thick in texture. By allowing the cream to cool, I didn’t have to worry about the eggs scrambling as I combined them. I added the cream slowly, so as to temper them which also prevented scrambling. Then I strained the egg and cream mixture into a measuring cup so that it would be completely smooth and so I would have an easier time transferring it to ramekins.
I placed the ramekins into a baking dish just deep enough and poured each almost to the brim with the cream and egg mixture. Then I placed the dish into the oven and poured hot water halfway up the ramekins. By baking them in a water bath, I prevented the crème brûlées from cracking and the water also kept the oven moist.
Once they had set in the oven, I allowed them to cool on the counter before transferring them to the fridge. One of the most important aspects of crème brûlée is that the custard is cool when you serve it. The only way to achieve this is to leave the ramekins in the refrigerator for a few hours, as hard as it may seem.
When they were nice and chilled, I coated the top with a thin layer of castor sugar. Using a fine sugar speeds the torching process because the sugar broils faster. I used a kitchen torch to lightly sear the top of my crème brûlée just until I had a nice golden color.
My mom’s very favorite dessert is crème brûlée which put more pressure on me to do well with this dish. When she tasted it, she told me it was as good as what you would find in a restaurant. I used twice the amount of vanilla the recipe required and it made the custard to die for. It was creamy, light, and so flavorful. The sugar topping cracked as we dug into it with spoons and it had the perfect taste.
To be honest, I don’t normally like crème brûlée because normally, the custard is too eggy and the sugar too burnt. This recipe has changed my mind about the dish for good. This dish looks so beautiful and complicated. If you make this for a dinner party, your guests will be awed and you will know just how easy it really is. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 whole egg yolks
1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons superfine sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Add cream and vanilla to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes.
Whip egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow and thick.
After cream has had time to cool, whisk while slowly adding the cream.
Strain the mixture into a spouted vessel, such as a measuring cup.
Place ramekins onto an oven-safe sheet or pan and pour mixture into each evenly.
Place tray in oven and slowly pour hot water into the pan halfway up the ramekins.
Bake for 30 minutes or until just set.
Cool at room temperature and then transfer to a refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
Once chilled, sprinkle a thin layer of fine sugar over the top.
Use a kitchen torch to brown the surface, never staying in one place for too long. Serve and enjoy.