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  • The Chopping Blog

You Had Me at Creme Brulee

Posted by Shelley on Jun 25, 2010

Crème Brulee continues to be something of a cultural phenomenon in America. This country has found true love with its French counterpart to custard and it has never looked back. Dare I say if one masters the preparation of the divinely simple Crème Brulee recipe, you will have the world eating out of your hand!

Here are the secrets to preparing the perfect Crème Brulee.

Fat: You never hear anyone fawn over custard the way they rave about Crème Brulee, yet they have essentially the same ingredients and same preparation. In Crème Brulee, you do away with anything remotely healthy such as egg whites, skim milk and artificial sweeteners. Heavy cream, egg yolks, and sugar are the name of the game. I will note that I have had Crème Brulee prepared with ½ and ½ and although not as creamy, it's still delicious and actually preferred by some.

Water Bath: Bake your Crème Brulee in a dish that holds water half way up the sides of your ramekins. You can use cold or hot water to fill the baking dish, and there is some dispute over which is better. Consider that if you are using cold water, it will take longer to cook. Eggs overcook very quickly, so this technique mitigates that and will yield a texture that is delicate and creamy.

Blow Torch:This tool is really the only thing stopping most people from making Crème Brulee. It's the perfect way to create the arguably best part of the dessert… the crunchy, delicately crispy and sweet sugar crust on the top. Broilers just don’t work well for this so pony up and get a blow torch!

This dish is great topped with the beautiful fresh berries we are seeing at the farmer's markets now.

I'll be demonstrating how to make Creme Brulee at the Taste of Chicago this Sunday 6/27 at 1pm. Come out to see me play with fire!

Crème Brûlée

Yield: 4 servings

Active time: 15 minutes

Start to finish: 3 hours

2 cups heavy whipping cream

4 egg yolks

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)

Sugar as needed for caramelizing

  1. Preheat the oven to 325º.
  2. Set four 4-ounce ramekins into a roasting pan with tall sides.
  3. Heat cream with vanilla bean pulp and pod in a heavy saucepan over a medium low flame until film forms and tiny bubbles appear around edges. Turn off heat and allow to steep for 10 minutes.
  4. Stir egg yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl to combine thoroughly. Slowly pour in warm cream while whisking gently. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into another bowl or large measuring cup with pouring spout.
  5. Pour mixture into individual ramekins, leaving about 1/2” at the top.
  6. Add very hot water to the roasting pan so the water reaches halfway up the outside of the ramekins. Bake until the custard is set, but still slightly quivering, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  7. Remove ramekins from roasting pan. Allow to cool in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  8. Sprinkle the top of each custard with 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar. Use a blowtorch or broiler to heat sugar to until it liquefies and caramelizes.

NOTE: If you have a convection oven, set your oven to regular “Bake” instead of “Convection Bake.”

Topics: creme brulee, Taste of Chicago, custard

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