Amy's Kitchen Blog

A Culinary Journey

Crème Brûlée

This is a surprisingly easy recipe for a dessert that seems so extravagant.  It takes just a few simple ingredients as well as the right tools.  The main custard part is easy and there are many variations on the flavor.  I had a harder time with the caramelized sugar on top because I’m not a crème brûlée connoisseur and wasn’t quite sure how it was supposed to turn out.  Fortunately, it hardened up without too much trouble despite a few spots that started browning (I’m not sure if that means it’s overcooking?).  I used a kitchen torch to caramelize these, but the original recipe (Betty Crocker’s Crème Brûlée) includes directions to use a broiler instead if you don’t have a torch.

I bought the ramekins (ceramic dishes) and a kitchen torch together in a set from Amazon.  They are also available locally at stores like Bed Bath and Beyond and Target.  If you’re thinking about investing in a set, are a lot of options available; I chose my set based upon price, size of ramekins, and customer reviews.  A good starter set will run between $20 and $35 for the ramekins and torch. Some include the butane (usually not included when purchased online, but your local grocery store should cell butane for lighter refills that can also be used to fill the torch) or a package of dry ingredients as well. There are also some higher-end sets that are more expensive but higher quality, and sometimes include a rack to hold the ramekins in a water bath while baking (they are still easy to bake in a water bath without the rack).  As far as ramekin size goes, I thought bigger would be better so that each guest could have more and therefore bought 6 oz ramekins.  There are smaller, shallower ones available and in hindsight I would recommend these.  The dessert is quite rich and it is difficult for one person to eat the entire 6 oz portion.  The shallower ones often have more surface area for the caramelized sugar which is also a plus.

Recipe:

Makes 4 6 oz. servings.

Ingredients:

6 egg yolks
2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 teaspoons granulated sugar (for caramelizing on top)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In 13×9-inch pan, place 4 (6-oz) ceramic ramekins. In small bowl, slightly beat egg yolks with whisk. In large bowl, stir whipping cream, 1/3 cup granulated sugar and the vanilla until well mixed. Add egg yolks; beat with whisk until evenly colored and well blended. Pour cream mixture evenly into ramekins.
  2. Carefully place pan with ramekins in oven. Pour enough hot water into pan, being careful not to splash water into ramekins, until water covers two-thirds of the height of the ramekins.
  3. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until top is light golden brown and sides are set (centers will be jiggly).
  4. Using tongs or grasping tops of ramekins with pot holder, carefully transfer ramekins to cooling rack. Cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Cover tightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours but no longer than 48 hours.
  5. Uncover ramekins. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons granulated sugar over each chilled custard. Holding kitchen torch 3 to 4 inches from custard, caramelize sugar on each custard by heating with torch about 2 minutes, moving flame continuously over sugar in circular motion, until sugar is melted and light golden brown. Serve immediately after caramelizing sugar; if it sits for a while it will get soggy.
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