Last month, the theme of the mom's club cooking class I have been teaching was French. French? Whose idea was that? Is it possible to cook something French and it be healthy? Not in this instance! Creme Brulee only has about four thousand calories. Okay, maybe not that many. But it is made simply of heavy cream, sugar and egg yolks. Well then it can't be that hard, right? Wrong! Creme Brulee is something you shouldn't attempt to make if your in a bad mood or if anybody in the house is in a bad mood. That goes for most baking items! Who ever said, "patience is a virtue", might have been a pastry chef.
I've made a million creme brulee's in my day and still am able to screw it up good. To do creme brulee as a demonstration and in 2 hours, you have to prepare several of them the day before. Oh, and you have to have a propane torch of some kind to burn the sugar on top of the baked custard. I didn't have one, so I ventured out to Bed, Bath and Beyond. They had a creme brulee "kit", which included the dishes used to bake the custard in and a small, hand held torch with a small can of propane. I want to say it was around $19.99, which is a pretty good deal, but there were only 4 dishes and I needed 8, plus the torch wasn't big enough for me. You know how boys can be about fire and things! So I opted for the "Professional Creme Brulee Torch", which looked and felt like what I wanted. When I'm not using it for creme brulee I may need to weld something back together. You can also blacken veggies with it or even do Baked Alaska. Also, I didn't have any ramekins to bake the custards in, so I swung by Wally World and found some cute, 3 ounce porcelain ramekins for less than a dollar a piece.
There aren't that many different recipes when it comes to a basic creme brulee, until you start adding different flavors. I decided to use a recipe out of The New Professional Chef, which is written by The Culinary Institute of America. Fool proof, right? Wrong again! I overcooked mine. Note to self: Not all Ovens are created Equal! Just because a recipe says bake it for 45 minutes doesn't mean you shouldn't check it before the 45 minutes. Catastrophe! Not really, they only overcooked (scrambled) a little bit. I still served them and everybody raved. Had I been working in a restaurant however, they probably would have made their way to the dishwashers. The thing the ladies in the class loved the most was burning the sugar on top. As for the recipe, here it is, but again don't trust your oven. The custards should wiggle just a little bit when finished and the top should look like glass. Be sure and chill them overnight!
CIA Crème Brulee Yield: 12: 4oz. portions
Heavy Cream 1 ¼ quarts
Vanilla bean, split ½ each
Sugar 8 ounces
Egg yolks, beaten 10 ounces
1. Combine the heavy cream, vanilla bean, and half the sugar; bring to a boil.
2. Combine the egg yolks and remaining sugar.
3. Temper egg-sugar mixture into hot heavy cream; cook until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon; strain through a fine sieve.
4. Fill ramekins seven-eighths full, place in a water bath.
5. Bake in a 325F oven until just barely set, approximately 45 minutes; remove from water bath when cool. Wipe bottom of ramekins and refrigerate overnight.
6. Sprinkle sugar evenly over top of custard and burn with torch.