I’ve loved creme brulee from the moment I first tried it many moons ago. It’s still a classic dessert, even though it’s been around for ages. I just made a batch last weekend and it gave us a treat to enjoy throughout the week. Always try and buy the freshest and best vanilla beans that you can – don’t skimp on this ingredient; it’s what really brings this dessert home in a big way.
Classic Creme Brulee Recipe
- 2 1/2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 whole vanilla bean, seeds and pulp scraped out but reserve all of it, including the pod
- Pinch of salt
- 15 tablespoons pure cane sugar, divided into thirds
- 5 large egg yolks
- Hot water
Preheat oven to 325
Have a fine mesh sieve over a bowl ready, to strain your cream mixture after you’ve cooked it.
Also, have a roasting pan ready – you’re going to add the hot water to the roasting pan, in which you’ll place your ramekins of creme brulee.
Fill a 2-quart saucepan with water and bring to boil. (this is for the hot water bath you’re going to create)
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, vanilla seeds, pulp and pod, pinch of salt and 5 tablespoons sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring well to dissolve the salt and sugar.
While the cream is coming to a boil, combine egg yolks and 5 tablespoons of sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk well.
When cream has reached a boil, remove from heat. Using a ladle or large spoon, scoop a bit of the cream mixture and add it to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Repeat with another ladle-full. Repeat. Add the remaining cream mixture and whisk to blend. Doing this slowly keeps the hot cream from actually cooking (aka scrambling) the eggs. Always err on the cautious side when adding the hot cream – slower is better than faster.
Carefully fill your ramekins with the mixture.
Add your boiling 2 quarts of water to the roasting pan. Gently place your ramekins in the water. Place the prepared pan full of filled ramekins in the oven.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the edges are well set but the centers are still jiggly.
Remove from oven and remove ramekins from the water bath. Let cool to room temperature for 30 minutes and then chill at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.
Immediately before serving, sprinkle the top of each dessert with a thin, even layer with about a tablespoon of sugar. Using a small kitchen blowtorch (or placing under the broiler) caramelize the sugar.
It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?
I use 5-6 oz. ramekins, so if you’re using smaller ones, the cooking time will be less, as will the amount of sugar you sprinkle on each of them. If you want, feel free to add a few sliced strawberries on top, or some raspberries, blueberries or blackberries. You can also replace the vanilla bean with a couple of teaspoons of ground dark coffee, preferably espresso, for coffee creme brulee. Of course, there are hundreds of variations of this classic…don’t be afraid to play with your food!