Beauty and the Beast: Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee

Introduction

Luscious, sweet, decadent. Creme Brulée is a perfect dessert. Creamy custard lies beneath a crisp, crunchy layer of glazed brown sugar.

The only downside is that you'll need some special props to make this dessert. Most, like the baking dish and electric mixer you probably already have. However, if this is your first time making the dish you may have to invest in four ceramic ramekins. A kitchen propane torch is also recommended. (You can make due without the torch in a pinch by using a broiler - see, below.)

The dessert is fine flavored with nothing but Vanilla Extract, but if you desire it picks up the flavor of espresso or orange liqueur. Sometimes, I put slices of strawberries on the bottom to give it a fruity surprise.

Creme Brulée can be cooked a day in advance, so you don't have to worry about it and can concentrate on your romantic evening.

This recipe makes four 5" ramekins, but for a real treat (and much larger portion) can be used to fill two, instead. Let your conscience (and waistline) be your judge.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 T Vanilla Extract
  • 1 T Grand Marnier (Optional)
  • 1 3/4 Cups Cream
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

Special Equipment

  • 4 Ramekins
  • 1 Baking Dish that can hold all 4 Ramekins in a single layer
  • Electric Mixer
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Sieve
  • Kitchen Propane Torch (Optional)

Directions

Add 1/4 C of SugarPut 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar in a mixing bowl.
Separate the eggsWe need 4 egg yolks. Here's the procedure. We'll crack the egg over the blue bowl and let the egg white pour into the bowl.
Separate the eggs We'll pass the egg yolk from one half the shell to the other, letting any extra egg white fall to the bowl.
Separate the eggs Pour the egg yolk into one glass. Put the white into the other.
Separate the eggsYou can see why we crack the egg over the blue bowl: if any of our egg yolk contaminates the white, or if we get a bad egg, we've only got to throw away one egg, not our whole batch.
Put the eggs in a mixing bowl with the sugarPut the egg yolks into the mixing bowl with the sugar and blend.
BlendWe're going for a pale lemon color. The yolks and sugar will smooth out and form a ribbon that will dissolve back into the mix when you've beaten the mixture sufficiently.
Bring the 1 3/4 C of Cream to a very quick boil.Bring the 1 3/4 C of Cream to a very quick boil. Be prepared - boil too much and it will overflow the pot and even burn. Stir with a wooden spoon as it heats.
As soon as it starts to boil turn off the flame.As soon as it starts to boil turn off the flame.
Immediately pour the cream into the egg yolks and blend. Immediately pour the cream into the egg yolks and blend.
Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan.Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan. Pour the mix back into the pan and stir over a medium low heat.
We want to get the temperature to 165 degrees F - and no more!We want to get the temperature to 165 degrees F - and no more!
Add tAt 165 degrees the mixture will coat the wooden spoon, but not be a thick custard. Turn off the heat. At 165 degrees the mixture will coat the wooden spoon, but not be a thick custard. Turn off the heat.
Pour the mixture through a sieve to make sure our Creme Brulée will be completely smooth. Pour the mixture through a sieve to make sure our Creme Brulée will be completely smooth.
Add theAdd 1 T of Vanilla Extract.Add 1 T of Vanilla Extract. You can also add additional flavorings such as 1 T of an orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier Stir.
Put the ramekins in a baking dish and fill them with the mixture. Put the ramekins in a baking dish and fill them with the mixture.
Add water to the baking dishAdd water to the baking dish such that the water comes up about half way on the ramekins. Make sure you don't fill it so high that the water spills into the creme brulee. The steam from the hot water will gently cook our dessert. Let them "bake" for 30 minutes at 300 degrees F. When they are done put them in the refrigerator to cool. Be careful taking them out of the hot water. I slide a wide pancake spatula under them and lift them out - saving my fingers from the steaming water!
Add thePut a half cup of brown sugarPut a half cup of brown sugar in a bowl and mix it with a fork so that there are no clumps.
Add thePut 1-2 T sugar in the middle of the ramekin. Put 1-2 T sugar in the middle of the ramekin.
Using a fork, gently (and without breaking the top of the custard) spread the sugar out toward the edges of the dish. Using a fork, gently (and without breaking the top of the custard) spread the sugar out toward the edges of the dish.
Add themelt the sugar brieflyWe're going to melt the sugar briefly under a hot flame. When it cools, the melted sugar will form a hard, candy-like crust.
Add theThe easiest way to melt the sugar is with a kitchen propane torchThe easiest way to melt the sugar is with a kitchen propane torch. They make it easy to see what you're doing. We don't want to burn the sugar, just melt it. You can also do this with a broiler, but it is awfully easy to burn the tops if you're not careful.
Add the Put the dessert back in the refrigerator to cool for a few hours. Serve the Creme Brulée chilled. Put the dessert back in the refrigerator to cool for a few hours. Serve the Creme Brulée chilled.

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