Creme Brûlée’s just have an air of elegance about them, the crispy layer of caramelized sugar that you break through and then the creamy cold custard. It’s one of my favorite desserts, and once you know how to make it – it can be one of the most versatile.
To start you’ll need cream, egg yolks, sugar and your flavoring. This is where you can creative. Today I’m just going to go with vanilla bean, which is still a really nice option. In the video I show you how easy it is to switch up the flavor, in addition to vanilla, I use some coffee – to flavor the creme brûlée’s.
To make the custard base you simply mix together the cream, eggs, sugar and flavoring. The next step is what kind of vessel are you going to cook the custard in. There are the traditional creme brûlée ramekins (the white ones super fancy) but you can also find different things that are oven safe you could use. I like the little Pyrex custard cups, you an see the little specks of vanilla bean through the clear glass and even better the portion of these are a little bit larger. So more Creme brûlée for you! I even have seen some shallow terra cotta ramekins that I think would make such a nice presentation, and with such a large surface area there would be a lot more of the caramel crunch to get through.
Cooking this delicate dessert is where things can go wrong. You’re going to want to cook this in a water bath – simple, right? Yes, this is not usually the issue. Now we cook them – THIS, this is where things can go wrong. If you overcook the custard the texture becomes grainy and it’s just awful. Really, AWFUL. I’m not kidding. So to remedy this, I cook these at 250 degrees. The temperature is hot enough to cook the eggs, but it will take a while. So you need to be patient, these take almost an hour and a half to cook in the oven. Well worth the wait. Go do something else. They aren’t going to burn, set a timer and walk away!
Once the have cooked, remove them from the water bath – carefully the water is hot! – and chill them for at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.
When you’re ready to serve them, think of what you’re going to garnish with. Vanilla bean is easy, you can pretty much throw anything on top and it just goes. Something else like coffee might need a little sprinkle of cocoa powder or maybe a drizzle of chocolate. Anyhow, once you have decided on your topping and you have it ready. It’s time to brûlée!
Sprinkle a nice even layer of sugar on top of the custard, take a torch and gently heat up the sugar until it melts and turns golden brown. Be careful not to heat up the custard too much with the torch, the coldness of the custard is part of the treat. (At least to me) Anywho, then garnish and serve!
Once you have mastered the technique, try different flavors. Cinnamon is lovely in the fall, a mint Creme brûlée in winter, so many different things to try!