Updated: Feb 4, 2021
“Every woman should have a blowtorch.” -Julia Child
It’s custard. Smooth, creamy, and rich. And then there is the caramel on top. Sweet with a crunch, and has a beautiful sound as you crack the top to get into the middle. Ah yes, Crème Brûlée. A classic french dessert, and one that is my mother's favorite and her favorite flavor, vanilla.
Crème Brûlée can be intimidating, it is easy to cook the eggs so you get scrambled eggs, or it can be underdone, and just a soupy mess. But when all is said and done it only takes five ingredients. The three main ingredients at play are the cream, egg yolks, and sugar. Each requires careful care and moderating the heat. Relatively, there are only a few steps to baking a Crème Brûlée, but the trick is to know what you are looking at and to cook the custard at the right temperature, for the right amount of time.
When cooking the custard on the stovetop, be sure to whisk the mixture constantly as to not let the cream score. Next when adding the egg yolks, put the cream into a bowl of the eggs and sugar, instead of directly in the heated pan. This may seem strange since this mixture will go back into the pan to cook longer, but if the eggs go directly into a hot pan, they could cook too quickly.
When whisking the eggs and cream together, timing is important. The custard should thicken but not too much, it is all about moderation. After the custard is done cooking on the stovetop, it needs to be transferred into ramekins. The ramekins should be put in a bain-marie, which is a pan that is filled with water. This allows the water to heat in the oven and cook the custard in the ramekins evenly.
To check if the Crème Brûlée is done baking, give the pan a little shake, and see if the custard gives a wobble. The wobble should occur in the middle, too much of a jiggle is an indication that the custard has not set. After an appropriate amount of time of letting the custard cool, it is time to give the signature caramel on top. Make sure to place an even layer of sugar on top and then fire the blowtorch away! The sugar will first melt into the custard, but hold it steady and the sugar will start to turn into a beautiful golden brown color. Be wary of overheating the sugar, it is just a light layer and can burn easily.
After all the anticipation, kick your feet up and give the top a good crack with a back of a spoon. Appealing to both sound and taste this vanilla Crème Brûlée is a recipe that I am sure you will enjoy.
2 cups heavy cream
1 ½ teaspoon of vanilla paste
⅛ teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
½ cup sugar plus some for the topping
In a saucepan combine cream and salt, stirring constantly until simmering. Let it sit for a few minutes then stir in vanilla paste.
In a separate bowl whisk egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is a pale yellow.
Pour the cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, then put it all back into the saucepan on low heat. Cook until mixture thickens slightly. (Note: the mixture should be a string consistency.)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Pour custard into four 6-ounce ramekins and place them into a baking dish. Fill the baking dish with water halfway up the sides on the ramekins.
Bake 30-40 minutes until centers are barely set. Cool completely and refrigerate for 3 hours.
Before serving, place a layer of sugar on the top. Using a blowtorch heat the sugar until a caramel layer forms.