Creme Brulee is typically a vanilla custard topped off with a burnt sugar topping.
The absolute best part of this dessert is that to get the sugar topping all burnt and crackly, you get to scorch the top with a mini-butane kitchen torch (though you may want to think twice before you consume carcinogens). It's also a dessert that is reasonably easy to prep and make, but super impressive when you serve it.
Cracking through the candy shell into the decadent custard below is what makes this dessert so much fun to eat. Once you have mastered the basic vanilla base recipe, you can start playing around to create your own masterpieces. Add 8 ounces of melted chocolate chips and you've got chocolate Creme Brulee. Or infuse the basic Creme Brulee recipe with fresh herbs like basil or spices like star anise or cinnamon. Then add a little citrus with zest of lemon, lime, or oranges, for an array of delectable creamy desserts.
Typically this is prepared in individual ramekins and eaten with a spoon.
- 6 egg yolks egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar, granulated, divided in half
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- In a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat combine the cream and vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the egg yolks and half of the sugar.
- Add a little of the warm milk into the egg mixture, whisking continually. Continue adding until the egg mixture is about the same temperature as the remaining milk. This is called tempering. Add the milk/egg mixture back to the pot with the remaining milk.
- Place back over medium heat, continually whisking until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Remove from heat and strain.
- Place 6 ramekins into a shallow pan that can hold water. Fill each ramekin almost to the top with the custard.
- Bring the pan to the oven and then fill with water so that the water comes about half way up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the custard is set in the center. Remove from the oven and remove ramekins from the water bath. Cool in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Using the remaining sugar, coat the tops of each of the ramekins with a thin coating. Shake off the excess. Using your kitchen torch, brown the sugar, being careful to stop torching once the sugar has turned an amber color. You can also achieve this (with less dramatic effect) by placing the ramekins under the broiler of your oven.