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Creme Brulee

Instead of my normal Thankful Thursday, I'm going to share a recipe with you and the tidbits that I am thankful that I have learned over the years. 


You can go to the original recipe here.  I have modified the recipe below with my notes in italics


First off, I learned that creme brulee is actually just glorified pudding with burnt sugar on top.  Here's the recipe we used for last weeks date night



Ingredients:

  • 1/2 vanilla bean I normally use vanilla extract but add it at the end of the fifteen minutes so that it doesn't give off an acrid taste from being cooked too long
  • 2 cups heavy cream believe it or not, this is vital, heavy cream is a must, you cannot substitute half and half or whole milk.  At least I don't think so.
  • 3 egg yolks The easiest way to separate the eggs is to pour them one by one into your hand and let the egg white drip off.
  • Pinch of salt If you are an exacting person 1/8 teaspoon equals a pinch
  • 1/4 cup plus 4 Tbs. sugar The funny thing about this is 1/4 cup is 4 Tablespoons.  HA!

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 300°F. Have a pot of boiling water ready. Line a baking pan that is 2 to 3 inches deep with a small kitchen towel. I have NEVER had an success with the towel.  Just forget about it.  I'm not even sure what it's for.  but you will need a baking pan or casserole pan to put water in.

Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise down the middle and scrape the seeds into a 2-quart saucepan. To make orange creme brulee like we had, just take a potato peeler and shave off some of the skin of an orange making sure you don't add any of the white part, because that part is actually quite bitter.  Add the cream, stir to mix and set the pan over medium-low heat. Warm the cream until bubbles form around the edges of the pan and steam begins to rise from the surface. Remove from the heat and set aside to steep, about 15 minutes.

You've made it through the difficult part!  Way to go!  Now on to other things...

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, salt and the 1/4 cup sugar until smooth and blended. Gradually add the cream to the egg mixture, whisking until blended. Go ahead and add a couple teaspoons of vanilla extract at this point if you didn't use the bean.  This next bit is a somewhat tricky part because you don't want to cook the egg, but the chances of that are significantly reduced by letting the cream steep for fifteen minutes.  Splash some in and then a little more and a little more.  Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. This is really to catch any bits of egg that may have cooked when adding the cream and the orange peel or vanilla bean if you used them.  Divide the custard among four 5- or 6-oz. ramekins and place the ramekins in the prepared baking pan.This will cook in ANY size and shape oven proof thingy.  If you have glass stuff or the white stuff that you make small casseroles in feel free to use it.  It can be a lot of fun to make one big pot to share.  And it's less clean up for you. Add boiling water to fill the pan halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Place the whole thing on the oven rack and then pour the boiling hot water into the pan.  That way you don't have to maneuver with sloppy hot water sloshing around.  I got that bit from Julia Childs.  Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and bake until the custard is just set around the edges, 35 to 40 minutes. This may not be enough time.  When you look at the top of the custard, it should have a skin over it and not look like you could pour it out . If it's not cooked enough, it will remain runny even after it cools. 

Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days. This is by far the hardest part.  Waiting for it to cool.  You can eat it right out of the oven, but it will not have the texture that you are used to in the restaurants.  But it is good!

Just before serving, sprinkle 1 Tbs. of the sugar evenly over each custard. A tablespoon might be too much, I tend to make a thin layer all the way across.  Too much sugar takes too long to burn and heats the custard up again, but not enough doesn't give you a good crack when you whack it.  Using a kitchen torch, melt the sugar according to the manufacturer's instructions. I hate to say this, but you are going to need some form of a torch.  If you like creme brulee it's a great investment, because as you can see, they really are quite easy to make but the sugar burning is what turns it from creme to creme brulee.  Your husband may have a torch in his shop that you can use, but trust me you will want your own. Serve immediately.
Serves 4.

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