Thursday, March 31, 2011

Creme Brulee

My husband and I have always loved creme brulee.  When I first started learning how to cook, we decided to try to make it ourselves, but it proved more difficult than expected.  We probably went through 5 or 6 recipes.  Many of them didn't set up properly, some weren't sweet enough and some were too sweet.  Then my baby's honorary grandparents made us creme brulee that was perfect, and they were sweet enough to share the recipe with us.  We've made it many times and it has always turned out perfectly. And it's actually easier than a lot of the recipes we tried.  You don't have to slowly heat the custard until it's thick enough like many recipes call for.

Anyway, I started aging 5 egg whites to make some more macarons this weekend, and when my husband saw the egg yolks in a container, he had the brilliant idea of making creme brulee, and since I knew it would be a huge deposit in his EBA (emotional bank account, for those of you who haven't been through 7 Habits training), I thought I'd give in.
And I thought I'd share the recipe.  I've altered it a little bit based on little tips I've picked up from the first 5 recipes I tried.

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
1 vanilla bean
2½ cups heavy cream
8 egg yolks
¼ cup superfine sugar, plus 3 tablespoons for topping

Slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and put it in a saucepan.  Pour the cream into the pan, then bring almost to a boil over medium heat.  Take off the heat and allow to stand for 15 minutes for the vanilla flavor to develop.

Lift the vanilla bean out of the cream and holding it against the side of the saucepan, scrape the black seeds into the cream.  Discard the bean casing.

Use a whisk to mix together the egg yolks and ¼ cup sugar in a medium bowl.  Reheat the cream, then gradually whisk it into the eggs and sugar, whisking constantly.  Strain the mixture through a sieve into a 4-cup measuring cup.

Place a kitchen towel on the bottom of a roasting pan (to keep the ramekins from sliding).  Place 6 ovenproof ramekins or custard cups (the shallow ramekins work best) in the roasting pan and divide the custard evenly between them.  Pour hot water around the dishes to come halfway up the sides, then bake in preheated oven at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, until the custards are just set with a slight softness at the center.  (Shake the pan just a little bit, and the centers should just barely wobble.)

Leave the dishes to cool in the water, then lift them out as soon as they’re cool enough to touch without burning yourself.  Chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.  Before serving, sprinkle the tops with remaining sugar.  Caramelize using a blowtorch, then allow to cool for a couple of minutes and serve.

*I used 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste instead of the vanilla bean this time and we couldn't tell a difference.

And I forgot to mention in the macarons post that I had a bit of a difficulty with grinding the almonds because, well, my food processor sucks.  It wouldn't grind the almonds fine enough, and you have to push the button so hard constantly for it to keep running that my fingers hurt and I had to have my husband grind them for a little while.  And they still weren't ground enough, so I had to put the almonds and powdered sugar into my magic bullet in several batches.  In the end, it took me twenty minutes to do something that should have taken me 2 or 3.  I wouldn't say I had a meltdown or anything, but I was extremely frustrated.  So my loving husband not only allowed me to, but told me to order a new food processor.  So I searched for America's Test Kitchen's top rated food processor and now I have an awesome food processor
And my little boy really loves it too.  Well, the box anyway.  He's in a bit of a climbing stage right now.  Anyway, here she is.  Isn't she pretty?
So macarons are going to go much smoother this weekend! 

Now I have to go figure out where to store it.  And my kopykake (which is still hanging out on our kitchen table). 


April said...

I love creme brulee too, I always feel so fancy when I find a place that has it.

Congrats on your new food processor! I got a new one recently too & now I am on the look-out for stuff to process. lol