This has got to be the creamiest, lightest most decadent dessert of all time. A silky custard speckled with vanilla bean seeds hidden underneath a caramel flavored crust, just waiting to ooze out. Crème Brûlée is one of the easiest desserts I have ever made, and it is definitely one of the tastiest: purely luxurious in that one bite does not do enough justice. Nigella says that “few puddings are as voluptuously, seductively easy to eat” as Crème Brûlée. While there are many variations on this fabulous dessert, I am bound to this one: It’s an adaptation of Dorie Greenspan’s recipe from her Baking: From My Home to Yours cookbook.
I have made several notable changes: Instead of using a combination of milk and cream, I use all cream. It’s already quite indulgent, might as well go the whole way. Instead of using vanilla extract, I used a vanilla pod. I love the subtle fragrance of vanilla extract- reminds me of chocolate chip cookies. When I first used a vanilla pod, I was disappointed: The smell didn’t quite appeal to me, however, once I had scraped the seeds and infused them into my dessert, there was no going back. It’s definitely the best, no kidding. But of course, If it’s not available, go ahead and use vanilla extract. My final change while crafting this recipe was the brûlée part- the delicate shell that masks the eggy cream.
Traditionally, the sugar is burned with a blow torch, and I do have one, however, it was easter the day I tried this out, all the shops were closed, and my torch was out of gas. I do not have a broiler, so the only other option that I could think of was the caramelize the sugar, and then pour it over the custard, it worked splendidly, however, the shell was slightly thicker than usual. Since I love the crunchy goodness, it was not a problem for me. By all means, you can make it thinner by pouring less of the caramelized sugar and then swirling it around immediately, but on the whole, I must say, it was a delectable treat- the best custard I’ve ever had. No kidding.
1 3/4 cup heavy cream (you can use 1/2 cup milk and 1 1/4 cup cream)
1 vanilla pod- split, seeds scraped (or use 2 tsp vanilla extract)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tbsp water ( if you want to do it the traditional way, scatter 1 tbsp granulated sugar over the baked, chilled custards then use a blow torch or put the custards under the broiler until the sugar is melted and the tops are caramelized)
1. Preheat the oven to 200 F or 100 C (250 F or 120 C if using a regular sized ramekin).
2. Place the cream, the vanilla seeds and the vanilla pod into a saucepan and bring to a boil. When you see bubbles form, immediately switch off the heat. Strain this mixture into a bowl- you want the vanilla seeds but you don’t want the pod!
3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light and frothy. If using vanilla extract, add now.
4. Very slowly add the hot cream mixture to the eggs- like, 1/4 cup at at time (even less). You don’t want to end up with sugary scrambled eggs!
5. You can strain the mixture again to make sure it is smooth and you don’t have chunks of overcooked egg.
6. Place 6 creme brulee ramekins onto a baking tray lined with either parchment or a silicone mat, and pour around 3/4 of a cup into each dish (you want to fill them to the top). If using regular sized ramekins, fill them halfway through.
7. Bake for around an hour, or until the centers no longer jiggle. Cool completely, then chill for at least three hours.
8. Caramelize 3/4 cup of sugar and few tbsp of water in a saucepan (cook till you get a dark amber color).
9. Quickly pour a small amount over the custards and swirl around to cover evenly, you probably won’t need all of the mixture.
10. Serve within a few hours.
(Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours cookbook)