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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée

This post is dedicated to Angela, a great friend, fun travel companion and new Mom. No matter what happens in our lives, we'll always have Paris! Je chérirai toujours notre amitié.

makes 6
recipe adapted from Mark Bittman (NY Times)
prep time: 25 min / cook time: 30 min

2 c heavy or light cream, or half-and-half
* I used heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
5 egg yolks
* I used 6 egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
2 tbsp turbinado sugar (also known as raw sugar)

• Preheat oven to 325˚F.
• In a saucepan, combine cream and vanilla bean (split and scraped) and cook over low heat just until hot. Let sit for a few minutes, then discard vanilla bean.
* If using vanilla extract, add it now.
• In a bowl, beat yolks and sugar together until light.
• Stir about a quarter of the cream into the mixture, then pour sugar-egg mixture into cream and stir.
• Pour into six ramekins and place them into a baking dish; fill dish/pan; fill dish/pan with boiling water halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
• Bake for 30 minutes, or until centers are barely set.
• Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours.
* The ramekins will be very hot when removed from the oven, so let them sit in the water bath for about 10 minutes before removing.
• Wrap ramekins tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

• When ready to serve, top each custard with about a teaspoon of turbinado sugar in a thin layer.
• Using a blowtorch, holding it about 2 inches away from the top, caramelize sugar.
• If you do not have a blowtorch, place ramekins in a broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat source. Turn on broiler.
• Cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes.

Un-torched crème brûlée can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days, but I doubt they will last that long!

• If there is condensation on the tops of the crème brûlée after removing them from the refrigerator, gently blot the tops with a paper towel.
• If you do not have turbinado sugar on hand, you can use regular sugar. The only difference is the caramelized crust won't be as hard. You might want to torch a few layers. I tested both sugars and didn't see a huge difference in color, but the hardness of the crust was noticeably different.
• I torched two layers of turbinado sugar to get a nice "crack" when digging into the crème brûlée.
• This recipe is very rich, but delicious. I would recommend using 4 oz oval ramekins.
• I ate one at room temperature without the caramelized crust, just as delicious if you ask me.




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