Crème Brulee. Some of you are sighing deeply and salivating at the very thought of those two beautiful words... and some of you have absolutely no idea what in the world Crème Brulee even is. If you are in the second group, it's high time you not only knew what it was, but that you begin eating it regularly. Well, maybe not too regularly. Maybe only on special occasions. Just be sure those special occasions come up often.
Now for those of you in the first group, I bet you have never even dreamed of making your own Crème Brulee, it's just one of those fancy and somewhat mysterious desserts you have had in nice restaurants. It somehow just isn't known as a dessert you would eat at home. That's really silly, considering Crème Brulee is ridiculously easy to make. There are only four simple ingredients, and you don't even have to temper egg yolks. You simply whisk together the egg yolks (save the egg whites in the freezer for angel food cake later), some sugar, vanilla and whipping cream, pour into custard cups, and bake very slowly in a water bath for 50 minutes. You do need to make the brulees in advance because they need to be refrigerated several hours or overnight.
Right before you serve them, you sprinkle granulated sugar over them, and TORCH them to burn the sugar! The sugar makes a nice hard layer on top, which is a wonderful compliment to the cool, rich, and creamy custard. Crème Brulee literally translates burnt cream. And burnt cream is a lovely thing indeed.
If your husband does not have a propane torch in his repetoire of tools (you might be surprised), they are very inexpensive at the hardware store. Whatever you do, don't buy anything called a "creme brulee" torch from a fancy cooking store -it's a rip off.
Last week, we had dinner at the Steadman's, and Dana let me bring dessert. I wanted to do something fun, since I know Briana loves making desserts and learning new things. I also knew that their 14 year-old son, Brandon, is quite the entrepeneur and makes amazing creations with all kinds of tools and found items. I thought he would definitely enjoy torching our dessert! So, we showed up with the Crème Brulee all ready to torch - and little did I know that Brandon already had his OWN torch, thankyouverymuch. So, it was really fun to watch him and Rich, side by side, torching our dessert. As you can see there was quite the audience -everyone gathered to watch- I guess they aren't too used to seeing their dessert being made with fire!
8 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup sugar (for the caramelized tops)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Add cream and vanilla, and continue to whisk until blended. Strain into a large pouring pitcher, if mixture is lumpy.
Divide mixture among 6 (3/4 cup) ramekins. Place in a 9 x 13 pan lined with a paper towel. Pour warm water into the 9 x 13 pan, filling to halfway up the side of the ramekins. Bake 50 minutes. Remove from oven and leave in the water bath until cooled. Remove cups from water bath and chill, covered, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
When ready to serve, sprinkle about 2 Tbsp. sugar on top of each ramekin. Use a small, hand held torch to melt sugar.