Monday, August 16, 2010

Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee is my all-time favorite dessert.  Yes, it is, and I'm not afraid to say so!  Next to the husband, children, God and the good old USA, it's what brings a smile to my lips and makes my heart skip a beat.

Over the years, I've tried many different recipes, and this is by far my favorite.  It's both simple and delicious.

First, take 5 large egg yolks.  One broke.  Sorry, Martha.

Beat the eggs into a frenzy with a whisk, and add 1/3 C sugar.  Whisk until it's thick and lemony yellow.  Add just a pinch of salt and set aside.

Pour 2 C heavy whipping cream into a medium saucepan.  Heat the cream until it starts to get little bubbles along the edge.  I did have a picture of the little bubbles, but evidently one-handed photography is a crap shoot.

Remove the cream from the heat, and SLOWLY pour the cream into the egg yolk mixture, while whisking. 

Add to this, 2 teaspoons of very good vanilla extract.  No Imitation vanilla, please.

Add 2 Tablespoons cold brewed coffee.  I use leftover morning coffee.

Very Important - Strain this through a fine mesh strainer, catching all those little bits of cooked egg.  No one wants that.

Pour the custard into 6 ungreased custard cups and place them into a water bath.  You know the drill. The oven is pre-heated to 350, and they'll cook approximately 30-35 minutes.  When you move the pan, the custard should still jiggle just a bit in the center.  Remove the pan from the oven, and allow them to cool in the water bath until the cups can easily be handled.

Refrigerate them for a minimum of 4 hours.  This is how they should look.  There should be no browning.

Here comes the fun part!  I like brown sugar on mine.  It has a lovely caramel/toasted marshmallow flavor.  You can use granulated sugar, if you prefer.  Use about 1 teaspoon of sugar for each cup.

Spread the sugar over the surface of the custard, using the back of the spoon.  I've placed the cup on a kitchen tile.....getting ready for the next step.

Use a kitchen torch, or you can use your broiler to caramelize the sugar, just until it's bubbly. 

Let it cool (I know how hard this part is) for at least 5 minutes, or you can refrigerate for 5 minutes.  Be careful, at this point.  If you refrigerate for more than 5-10 minutes after caramelizing, you will loose the crunch factor.  I usually just let it cool a bit on the counter.  Careful of the rim, it might be hot.  If you don't have a torch, no problem, just use your broiler. 

This is very rich, very creamy, and the slight coffee flavor in the background is unexpected, but absolutely delicious.  I hope you try it.

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