crème de la crème brûlée

I decided to make crème brûlée today, despite my better judgment. It’s not that it’s a horrible dessert for you, aside from the crippling cholesterol of 8 egg yolks, 3 cups of heavy cream and a cup of sugar… Back in the day I used to make crème brûlées for staff at my old high school, charging them $50 for a platter. I used to get a lot of raves over my crème brûlée, but not having made it in two years I wondered if I still could produce a decadent batch. Back then I used to use The Joy of Cooking recipe, but since I couldn’t find my good ol’ JOC I used Parisian chef Paule Caillat‘s recipe, sans real vanilla bean because TJ’s didn’t have it. You need 7 egg yolks, 1 whole egg, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3 1/2 cups heavy cream, 2 tsp pure vanilla extract, brown and white sugar for the sugar coat.

The endeavor was in short, sloppy.  I am a REALLY messy and impatient cook, which is something that must change because it makes the process chaotic and difficult. My small kitchen was filled with a day’s worth of dishes and all the pans and ramekins I needed were dirty. Odd papers, books and groceries cluttered the island, and stains from last-night’s pasta dish still clung to the counters. I should have prepped like real chefs do, but instead I just started separating egg yolks like crazy. I even forgot to cover the separated egg whites and they fell over in the fridge. It was a mess.

Crème brûlée is really simple though it has a lot of steps. People get intimated because it has three accents and is often listed in overpriced restaurants. In short:

1. Separate egg yolks from egg whites and save egg whites for a healthy scramble the next day.
2. Beat the yolks with sugar.
3. Heat up the cream with vanilla in a large pot until hot, but don’t let it boil. Pour the cream carefully and gradually into the egg mixture and whisk it together.
4. Let it sit for 15 minutes to an hour t let the flavors fuse together.
5. Put into a water bath of hot water.
6. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 350. It should be firm around the edges, but jiggly in the middle.
7. Let stand at room temp. for 15 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours until cold and firm (this dish is best cold- not lukewarm, in my opinion)
8. When ready to serve, sprinkle with a combo. of brown sugar and granulated sugar and then place in the broiler for one or two minutes, close to the heat or flame. Alternatively, you can torch it with one of these.
9. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes to cool off.

I am about to undo three miles of walking and a group yoga session from this morning, but it’s totally worth it.


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