This crunchy and custardy crème is my all time favorite dessert! I loved it for a very long time but I also dreaded making it, thinking it would be impossible to replicate its creamy tender texture topped with delicious caramel served in restaurants. What a waste of time that fear was! For all of you thinking this a complicated fancy-schmancy thing- it really is a very simple dessert to make. If I can do it, anyone can do it. And of course crème brûlée can be made at home even without having a kitchen torch, as in my case. This is my very first try and I am beyond happy that it was successful. I know now that next time I’ll double the ingredients to make a more generous amount because…well..I have a generous appetite for crème brûlée! Of all the recipes presented in this blog, this was the hardest waiting for to set and eat 🙂 . It was torturous actually! But it was definitely worth the wait. To me crème brûlée would be the perfect treat for a special occasion, all you need is to follow the recipe strictly and make the crème a day before the occasion and leave in the refrigerator over night. It helps setting the crème beautifully. Of course if you are in a hurry cooling it for 4-5 hours will also do. Another yummy detail is using a vanilla pod instead of the artificial extracts. Nothing beats a creme infused with real, sweet and addictive vanilla flavour. This is why, as seen in the top picture, I preferred to leave the vanilla seeds in the custard instead of straining them.
A word about caramelizing the sugar on top of the crème brûlée. Do not worry if you don’t have a kitchen torch, if you have grill (broiler) function in your oven, it will be all you need. I was worried that returning the crème in the hot oven will change the custard texture, worse- it will turn it into a wobbly mess. Not at all! I preheated the grill at maximum temperature and let the ramekins in the oven for about 5 minutes to get that gorgeous caramel. Then I cooled them a bit and left them in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour. Crème brûlée caramelized in the oven gets that fine rustic view that I am favouring so much….see the edges beautifully blackened by burnt sugar. To me this burn balances out perfectly the rich and sweet custard. Do I need to tell you that scraping and savouring the edges gave me enormous pleasure 🙂
The recipe is adapted from BBC Good Food. Ingredients for 6 ramekins:
500 ml double cream
150 ml full fat milk
6 large egg yolks
50 g white sugar, plus extra for the topping
1 vanilla pod
Preheat the oven to 150 C. Pour the double cream and milk into a medium pan. If you are using a vanilla pod, slice it lengthways, split it open and scrape out all the tiny seeds into the cream mixture. Drop the vanilla pod in as well, you will take it out later. Bring the cream to a simmer over medium-low heat. As soon as you see bubbles appear round the edge, take the pan off the heat.You do not want it to boil, otherwise when added to the eggs it will scramble them. You just need to get the cream warm and simmering gently. In a large bowl whisk the eggs and sugar for a 2-3 minutes to get them paler in colour and fluffy. I did it by hand but you can use a hand mixer, if so whisk for a minute. Strain the cream mixture and remove the vanilla pod. I did remove that but left the seeds. I could not help and tasted it, the flavour was out of this world! Slowly add a cup of the warm cream into the eggs while stirring continuously. This is called eggs tempering. Continue adding the rest of the cream and stirring. Pour the mixture into the ramekins and place them in a roasting tin. Stick in the oven and pour boiling water into the roasting tin, allowing it to come about 1.5 cm up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the custard is softly set. To check, sway gently the tin and if ready the crème brûlées will wobble a bit. That is what you are looking for. Take the ramekins out of the tin and let them cool for a few minutes on the kitchen counter. After that leave in the fridge to cool completely at least for 4-5 hours. I kept them in the fridge overnight.
To make the caramel crust, sprinkle a fine layer of sugar over the tops of your ramekins. Shake them back and forth gently to distribute the sugar evenly. Move the rack in your oven up as high as possible and turn the grill (broiler) function on. Grill (broiler) for about 5-6 minutes or until golden brown and bulbing. Let cool a bit and place the ramekins back in the fridge for half an hour. Serve and enjoy, I certainly did :-)!
Have an yummy Sunday!