Torturing The Creme Brulee
I have a confession! I love Creme Brulee! There! I’ve said it! However I never thought that making something so good was so easy. It all started when my brother, Tommy, told me he was coming to visit my mom and wanted to know if I wanted to make a dinner with him. I jump at the chance to cook with another passionate cook and my brother is one of those people who loves to cook (he really knows wine too). So we decided on a menu and then he asked what we should have for desert. I immediately mentioned that I loved Creme Brulee. He responded with ‘I have the perfect Creme Brulee recipe and I’ll bring my torch’. Cool! Fire too!
So when my brother came he taught me how to make Creme Brulee and French Bread as well as a recipe called Chicken Veronique. It was all just heavenly! He also had the recipes printed out for me so that I could try them on my own at home.
Jump ahead a couple of months later and I decided that for Valentine’s dinner with my love, Matt, I was going to make a wonderful dinner (Spaghetti Carbonara) and pull out my newly bought torch and make Creme Brulee. However when I went to look for the recipe that my brother had given me I couldn’t find it. Isn’t that always the case? So I searched the internet for a recipe that looked to be close or the same as that one. After extensive searching I found a Creme Brulee recipe from Alton Brown at Food Network.com that seemed to come really close. I know my brother likes Alton Brown’s stuff so I figured he may have actually used this recipe.
The hardest part when making Creme Brulee is waiting for it to come out of the oven. The rest of the process is really fun and smells great! The ingredients are simple: heavy cream, a beautifully fragrant vanilla bean, sugar, egg yolks and hot water. Most of which you’ve probably already got hanging around your kitchen. The biggest thing I had to do to prepare for this was buy ramekins, a torch (which both came in a nice little kit from Bed, Bath, and Beyond for under $30), some butane fluid for the aforementioned torch, and finding vanilla beans that wouldn’t break the bank.
Now you don’t want to cheap out on the vanilla beans and reach for vanilla extract when making Creme Brulee. I am pretty sure doing that is a crime so be careful. The fact is that Creme Brulee although a simple dessert to make is a decadent, indulgent treat and every effort should be made to make sure you honor that. Suck it up and buy real vanilla beans. I originally went to the supermarket and laid down a hefty $7 for one vanilla bean the first time I made this treat (Yes, I’ve made it more than once now…can you blame me?) but I soon discovered that my town had a really great spice shop and there I found vanilla beans priced at 3 for $5.00. I immediately bought 6 and drove smiling home with my treasures. So look around your town for specialty shops who get vanilla beans in bulk. They will be cheaper there.
After splitting the vanilla bean and dropping all those wonderful smelling seeds into the pot of heavy cream I took special care to warm the combination up on the stove and stir frequently. You might want to be aware that you really need to be attentive to your vanilla bean/heavy cream combo because heavy cream loves to burn and boil over if given the chance.
While you’re keeping one eye on your vanilla bean/heavy cream duo you can begin to whip up the egg yolks with the sugar until it reaches the right consistency. Once that task is done you can slowly add the vanilla bean/heavy cream combo into the egg yolk/sugar combo remembering to continuously stir.
You then pour the wonderfully fragrant yellow concoction into your waiting ramekins and place the ramekins in a large cake pan or some such and fill pour enough hot water to come half way up the outside of the ramekins thus creating a nice hot sauna effect for your Creme Brulee. Place in your preheated oven and wait with delightful anticipation for about 45 minutes. The whole time the beautiful smell of vanilla fills your home with joy! 🙂
Once the time is up I took the masterpieces out of the oven and placed them in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Now the real fun begins! Fire away! It was time to use my new torch! After sugaring each of the Creme Brulee tops I lit my torch and let the flames caramelize the tops. We had fun taking pictures of this process so those are the pictures you’re going to see here.
Flames in the dark!
Once done with the flame thrower…err…I mean torch let the Creme Brulee rest for a moment in the refrigerator so that the top gets that wonderful characteristic glassy composure. Then take them out and enjoy! I’ve made this several times now and I really think it’s as good if not better than any Creme Brulee I’ve had at expensive restaurants. It’s easy and pretty inexpensive to make as well. Definitely one of my all time favorites. We enjoyed this dessert after our Spaghetti Carbonara dinner served with a wonderful Mouton Cadet Bordeaux 2008. Wonderful!