Monday, January 9, 2012

The Crème de la Crème of Desserts

 Last year my daughter Erica gave me a butane torch and a set of ramekin dishes for Christmas.  I had made Crème Brûlée once for us right after the holidays and then sadly I had run out of fuel (literally and probably figuratively at the time) and my torch quickly got lost in the back of the cupbaord. The recipe I used had come from a French cook that I love.  It tasted delicious but it was pretty rich and I don't dare to think of the calories involved.
I've always been a pudding type kind of girl but when you add a thin layer of carmelized sugar to the top it's absolute heaven. I had been thinking about trying to make it again for a while but this time a lighter version.  With my torch refueled and ready to go I was on a quest for a recipe.  I couldn't quite find one that had what I wanted but made up this version based on different recipes and what I had on hand.  Even though I've used light cream (when most ask for heavy) and exchanged some for low fat milk the result is still a creamy custard lightly infused with vanilla.

Crème Brûlée with Vanilla Bean
(serves 6)
1 3/4 cups light cream
3/4 cup 1% milk
1 vanilla bean, split
6 egg yolks (use the egg whites to make a nice omelet the next day)
1/2 cup fine sugar

Preheat oven to 300°C. Place six 2/3- cup ramekins in a large roasting pan.

Pour cream and milk into a medium saucepan. With a knife make a slit down the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the cream. Add 1/2 the bean to the cream mixture. Place the other half in your sugar bowl to make vanilla sugar (mmm!) for a rainy day or roll berries into and use as a garnish. :) Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer (do not boil).

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl until well combined. Gradually whisk the cream into the egg yolk mixture until well combined. You need to do this gradually or you will cook the eggs which would be rather like eating scrambled cream eggs. Remove and discard vanilla pod. Pour through a sieve (optional) and into the ramekins. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the dishes.

Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes or until just set. Remove from oven. Transfer the dishes onto a cooling rack to cool. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill.

After chilled, sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of sugar on the surface of the custard.  Get out the torch (fun!) and with a subtle circular motion melt the sugar until it bubbles and turns a caramel colour.  Let cool to a hardened surface and serve.

The great thing about Crème Brûlée is not only does it look a lot harder to make than it is (always alot of kudos to the chef)  it also can be made in advance and then torch it just before serving.  (If you don't have a torch you can also use your oven on broil.)
I think next time I might look at lowering the egg content or maybe using the whole egg.  I'm not sure if that may change the consistency of the custard too much but it's worth a try.

Happy Monday. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. 


  1. That looks delicious! I might have to put one of those torches on my 'need' list.

  2. Yummy, yummy! Creme Brûlée is my all time favorite dessert. I might have to break down and buy a torch in order to try this yummy sounding recipe. Plus, I know my youngest son, who is also a creme brûlée lover, would think me the best mom in the world if I made this!
    Thanks for sharing,
    x, Val


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