Saturday, January 17, 2009
I am such a custard girl. Make me choose between any custard-based dessert or chocolate and it will be the custard one every time. Pie or custard? Custard. Cake or custard? Custard. Fruit or custard? Custard. Anyway, you get my point. From leche flan, to creme caramel, to creme anglais, to brazo de mercedes, to canonigo, to portuguese egg tarts, to creme brulee, I love them all. Especially creme brulee. There is something about the purity of eggs, cream and vanilla...smooth and velvety against the tongue, accented by the occasional crunch of the caramelized sugar. Heaven.
I don't know why I never attempted to make this dessert. I always thought that it would be hard. I don't know why. I was really surprised at how simple it was! Mix the cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Bake in ramekins in a water bath. Top with sugar. Caramelize the sugar. That's it!
I used Mark Bittman's recipe from his book How to Cook Everything. His recipe calls for:
6 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups cream
1 cup sugar
1. Heat the cream just to the brink of steaming. If using the bean, let the split bean steep in the hot cream for about 10 minutes. I used extract so I skipped the steeping step.
2. In a separate bowl, mix the yolks and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
3. Gradually pour in the hot cream and mix well. Add the vanilla extract at this point if you're using extract.
4. Pout the custard mixture into ramekins. I think that wide, shallow ramekins work best since there's a larger surface area:volume ratio, which means more crunchy sugar topping. Yum!
5. Bake the creme brulee in a water bath in a 300 decree oven for about 30 minutes until set.
6. Cool in fridge.
7. Just before serving, sprinkle top with sugar and caramelize under the broiler or with a kitchen torch (which I hadn't bought then and just procured today).
I made 2 batches to bring to our Christmas dinner with S&A (which is why I used disposable ramekins). To one batch, I added 1/2 cup of Bailey's. It was good but I prefer the plain one. This will definitely make many more appearances on our table!