Thursday, July 9, 2015

Creme Brûlée

Antonie used a lot of egg whites the other day making Macarons, which were delicious, but she also left a lot of egg yolks just begging to be used. And, when I have egg yolks, I make Creme Brûlée. This is one of the very few dairy desserts that I will eat and it's so simple too. It's actually a ratio - 1 Egg Yolks, Sugar and Cream in the same proportions and then decide if you want to make a lot of Creme Brulee's or a few. I like to make the custard layer smaller on the bottom so I made 7 servings out of the 7 egg yolks I had. Some people, though, make only 4 servings with the same amount. It's up to you. Some people also add vanilla, but I like to keep it simple and let the Caramelized Sugar shine as the main flavor. 

The first trick to cooking Creme Brûlée, which is a fancy way of saying custard, is that the ramekins need to be cooked in a water bath and it is helpful to put a kitchen towel underneath to keep the ramekins secure and the temperature suitably low enough on the bottom of the pan. Then the other trick is to sprinkle the cold Creme Brûlée custards with sugar and then use a torch to heat and caramelize the sugar into a crunchy thin crust.  You have to do this fast or the custard will heat up too much. When it is done just right, the custard right below the sugar is warm, but the rest is cold so there are different temperatures and textures with each bite. And who doesn't love to break into that sugary crust? Martin insisted on buying a Plumber's torch as he didn't think it was practical to have a little tiny torch just for making Brûlée. I think though that the little torches are much safer, although the big one was fast.  

Creme Brûlée is so delicious and so easy to make. If you are serving this at a dinner party, you can make the custards ahead and then just get it ready right before serving. It is also so much less expensive to make it at home. Try it, you will be amazed at how easy this recipe is and how fantastic this homemade Creme Brûlée tastes!

Creme Brûlée

7 egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 3/4 cups of Whipping Cream
Butter for buttering the Ramekins
Additional sugar for Brûlée - a little less than one teaspoon per Ramekin

Heat oven to 300 degrees and boil a teakettle of water.  Butter 5 - 7 Corning glass baking cups or Ramekins and place in a 9 x 11 inch glass baking dish lined with a thin kitchen towel. In a large bowl, mix together the Egg Yolks, the Sugar and the Cream with a whisk until thoroughly blended. Using a soup ladle, divide the custard mixture evenly between the Ramekins.  Put the glass pan into the oven and then pour the boiling water carefully around the Ramekins until about 1/2 way up the sides, being careful not to get any into the cups.  Bake for 45 minutes until the custards are firm but still a bit wobbly in the center. If you made Ramekins that are quite full, it will take longer to cook and they may need an additional 5 - 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for about 30 minutes.  Then remove from the water bath and cool another 30 minutes. Then wrap with plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled - from several hours or even the day before.

When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap. Sprinkle nearly 1 teaspoon of sugar evenly over the top of each Ramekin. Take a torch and melt the sugar until it browns.  You can also do this step under the broiler, but watch them carefully as they burn easily!  Repeat until all are ready.  Serve immediately. 

Five Element Analysis

As a dessert, you know this is going to be an Earth food, but the egg yolks also contribute the Water Element and the Creme adds in the Metal Element.  Then the act of burning the Sugar adds some of the Fire Element. You wouldn't expect a dessert to be naturally balanced, so this is a good dessert to add to a meal that is composed primarily of Wood and Fire Foods.  We had a Roast Chicken with a big Green Salad for dinner with the Creme Brûlée for dessert to create a balanced Five Element Meal.  

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