Saturday, December 15, 2012

Crème Brûlée

 If I had my choice of what to consume as my last meal on earth, it would have to include Crème Brûlée.  Nothing compares - in my humble opinion.  Although understated, but it makes a huge statement as a dessert.  If people only knew how wonderfully simple it is to make, the secret would be out (shhhh...)

I learned to love Crème Brûlée on a cruise a few years ago.  I am almost ashamed to admit that I ordered it EVERY night (sometimes in combination with yet another dessert).  It gave me a lot of pleasure to tap-tap-tap the hardened, caramelized sugar topping.  A little shard or two of this shattered sugar combines with the silky custard and it’s heaven.

I’d never attempted it until a few months ago.  There are only a few things to remember to make this a success every time.  First - always introduce the hot cream into the eggs SLOWLY, and a small amount at a time.  This keeps it from cooking the eggs on the spot.  

Next - always bake in a water bath.  This keeps the custard tender, and prevents it from becoming rubbery.  Last, completely chill the custard before attempting to caramelize the topping.  Why you ask?  To keep the custard firm - you don’t want to DRINK it.

As far as the caramelized topping goes, here’s what I learned.  Use super-fine sugar.  You can’t find superfine sugar?  No problem.  

Just run regular granulated sugar through your blender until it’s almost the texture of powdered sugar (but not QUITE).  To sprinkle on an even coating, use a fine mesh strainer - the topping will come out even and have less tendency to burn (unless you LIKE it that way)

Some people use their broiler to caramelize the sugar, but that puts the custard at risk of melting.  You can use a culinary torch (fairly inexpensive) or your husband’s plumbing torch (they both produce a FLAME of equal heat)  When you torch it, try to keep the flame parallel with the top of the custard dish - instead of pointed down into the center.  The sugar will melt more evenly that way with fewer burned spots.

Now... go make yourself some and feel special.  You’re worth it.  (This makes a really elegant Christmas dessert as well)

For the recipe, go to:

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