I love cooking. There is just something about sharing good food with friends and family that sparks great conversation and incredible memories...
For my husband's birthday, he asked me to make creme brulee instead of a traditional birthday cake. I'd never made creme brulee before. We received a kitchen torch as a wedding present that was collecting dust in our cabinets, and this was a perfect opportunity to finally use it. I found the secret to a good creme brulee is great ingredients and patience to achieve that irresistible vanilla custard favor and texture and caramelized sugar crust.
CLASSIC CREME BRULEE
Recipe Difficulty: Easy to Medium
Serves: 4-5 with 6-7oz. ramekins
Time: 8 hours (Custard can be made up to four days in advance)
4 cups heavy cream chilled
2/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean and seeds
12 large egg yolks
6-8 teaspoons granulated sugar for crust
Raspberry and mint leaves (optional for decoration)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position.
Combine 2 cups of cream, sugar, and pinch of salt in medium saucepan. Add the vanilla bean and submerge the pod into the cream. Bring to boil over medium heat stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat and steep for 20 minutes.
While the custard is steeping, separate yolks from egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until yolks are broken up and combined. Set aside.
Begin preparing your bain-marie (water bath) for the creme brulee. Line a large baking dish with a kitchen towel or my preference a Silpat. Bring a kettle or large saucepan of water to boil.
After the vanilla bean has steeped, stir in the remaining 2 cups of cream. Then in the large mixing bowl with your egg yolks, whisk 1 cup of cream mixture at a time until the mixture is evenly colored and combined.
Strain the mixture though a fine-meshed strainer to remove any large particulates from the vanilla bean. Discard solids.
Ladle mixture evenly into ramekins, and place all the filled ramekins into baking dish. Pour boiling water into the dish about 2/3 of the way to the top of the ramekins and being careful not to splash any water onto the custard.
Bake in oven for about 35-45 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 170-175 degrees in the center. The centers should be set and no longer sloshy. Don't be afraid to add additional time if necessary, but keep checking so you don't overcook.
Transfer ramekins to wire rack and cool at room temperature for 2 hours.
After they have cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold for at least 4-6 hours. You can leave the creme brulee in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Uncover. If any condensation has collected, gently soak with paper towel. Sprinkle 1-1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar evenly over the top. Ignite kitchen torch and caramelize sugar using a circular motion to evenly distribute heat and prevent burning. Be careful: sides of ramekins will be hot.
Refrigerate ramekins uncovered for 30-45 minutes to rechill. Garnish with raspberry and mint leaves. Serve.