I’ll never forget the first time I tried Crème Brûlée, one of the most decadent desserts around and my personal favorite! I was 15 years old when my mom and I went out shopping one Sunday afternoon. After the mall my mom took me out to our favorite Italian restaurant for dinner. I can still remember what I had that evening: Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo topped with bubbly mozzarella cheese! But as incredible as it was I always save room for dessert wherever I go.
When it was time for dessert my mom and I looked over the menu and one item stood out from the rest: Crème Brûlée. I had never seen a word with so many accent marks! I was curious and I immediately asked my mom if she had tried it before. She looked at me with a confused face and said no. Once our waitress returned I asked her to explain the dessert and as she was explaining it my mouth started to water! She also stated that it was her favorite dessert! My mom and I quickly said we would take two!
As we waited for this new dessert that neither of us had tried before, we wondered what would it look like and how it would taste? And then out of the corner of my eye I spotted our waitress! She was holding two white oval shaped ramekins. As she lowered the ramekins onto the table we saw a thin crust of perfectly caramelized sugar. She then gave a knowing smile and walked away, leaving us to savor the moment.
I remember grabbing my spoon and trying to dip it into the Crème Brûlée. But that didn’t work because it had a shell of caramelized sugar. With the tip of the spoon I tapped the shell to break off a small section and then I discovered the beautiful light yellow custard hidden underneath. It was like nothing I had ever tasted before! The sugar shell with the custard mixed beautifully, it was creamy and soft but with a delicious crunch. The custard wasn’t too sweet but just right! It was soft, delicate, velvety and so creamy! Needless to say I fell in love with this dessert!
Now let’s fast forward to three years later when my aunt stopped by my house one day and gave me a Crème Brûlée recipe that her friend has been using for years! I was so excited and I couldn’t wait to try the recipe and see if it would taste the same as my favorite Crème Brûlée dessert at the Italian restaurant. The next day I drove to the store and bought myself some ramekins and all the ingredients. Much to my surprise I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make! And guess what? It tasted even better than my (formerly) favorite Crème Brûlée!
- Butane Kitchen Torch (not really needed, I just really wanted one)
- Roasting Pan or a glass baking dish
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup half and half
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Turbinado Sugar to sprinkle on top
- Preheat your oven to 325 F
- Cut your vanilla bean lengthwise and with a small knife scrape out the seeds.
- In a small saucepan add the half and half, heavy cream, vanilla bean and the vanilla bean seeds. Bring all the ingredients to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.
- Bring a small pot of water to boil.
- Separate the egg yolks and place them in a bowl. Add a 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the egg yolks and whisk until they are a light yellow color.
- Remove the vanilla bean and slowly add the cream mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly.
- Place your ramekins in a roasting pan and pour the custard into the ramekins.
- Carefully add the boiling water to the roasting pan. The water should come half way up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake for 45 minutes. Carefully remove the ramekins from the bath water and place in the refrigerator to chill for 3 hours or overnight.
- Sprinkle Turbinado Sugar over the top of the custards. With a kitchen torch caramelize the sugar until it’s a beautiful amber color with small darker pockets of brown. Serve immediately and enjoy!
- A kitchen torch isn’t really needed, you are are able to caramelize the sugar in your oven by broiling it. Keep a close eye if you decided to do it this way so that you don’t burn your sugar!
- If you use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar place the ramekins on a cookie sheet so that you don’t burn your counter.
- When caramelizing the sugar with a kitchen torch swirl the flame around instead of holding it still in one place. This will distribute the heat evenly and ensure that you don’t burn the sugar.
- If you do not have Turbinado Sugar don’t worry you can use regular sugar, but the Turbinado Sugar does kick the flavor up a notch!
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