Crème brûlée has always been one of the sexiest desserts I can think of. I am just everlastingly attracted to the crisp, crackling brown sugar topping that shatters like glass at the tap of a spoon, revealing a silky smooth and sleek custard underneath… in my opinion, it is the epitome of bliss in a ramekin.
When I was young, crème brûlée has always been my dad’s thing. He would make them using a recipe from an old newspaper clipping. I got to eat one very rarely and only on special occasions; a special treat but a treat indeed. Call it love at first bite. Since I so rarely got the privilege of indulging in a crème brûlée, as my dad did not even make them once a year, I believed that they were difficult and challenging to make. I could not have been farther from the truth. These took 15 minutes tops to put together and they are every bit as good as my dad’s… smooth, creamy, and sinfully decadent.
Crème Brûlée (from Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan)
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup sugar
- About 6 tablespoons sugar or sifted light brown sugar, for topping
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Put six baking dishes (I used six glass ramekins) on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Bring the cream and milk just to a boil.
In a 1- or 2- quart glass measuring cup or in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla together until well blended but not airy. Still whisking, drizzle in about one quarter of the hot liquid – this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the cram and milk. give the bowl a good rap against the counter to de-bubble the custard,then strain it into the baking dishes.
Bake the custards for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the centers are set – tap the sides of the dishes, and the custards should hold firm. Lift the dishes onto a cooling rack and let the custards cool until they reach room temperature.
Cover each custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably longer. (The custards can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.) For the sugar to be successfully caramelized, the custards need to be thoroughly chilled.
To caramelize the sugar topping with a blowtorch, work on one dish at a time. Sprinkle the top of each custard evenly with sugar – about 1 tablespoon for each dish – then brown the sugar, cooking it util it bubbles and colors. Wit until the bubbles subside before serving the crèmes.
To caramelize the sugar in a broiler, preheat the broiler and fill a shallow roasting pan with ice cubes. Sprinkle the custards with the sugar, put the baking dishes on the bed of ice and run the custards under the broiler. Don’t move away from the oven – depending on your broiler, it can take seconds or minutes to caramelize the sugar and you don’t want to miss the moment and ruin the topping. When the sugar bubbles and browns, pull the custards out, remove them from their ice bed and let them settle down before serving.