Ahh Crème Brûlée. Crunchy, caramelized sugar top with a creamy vanilla center. Where have you been all my life?
I’ll tell you where. Relegated to second-class desserts by my chocoholic tendencies. Crème Brûlée never stood a chance in a restaurant. But now… But now I can’t get enough! And I was genuinely shocked by how easy it was to make from scratch.
I even got some of the water bath in my custard dish.
Big no-no. HUGE no-no. And it came out totally fine!!! Observe:
Because it can chill for up to 4 days (without the brûlée, of course), it is the perfect make-ahead dessert. You can whip them out of the fridge with a flourish, brûlée that yummy sugar and dazzle your dinner guests with your culinary finesse.
Et Voilà! Dessert!
And the perfect portions for 2? Sounds like a dazzler of a Valentine’s Day, Date Night, or run of the mill Tuesday dessert to me!!! Nothing spices up Tuesday like Crème Brûlée.
I did a mini Test Kitchen with my Crème Brûlée: On one I used turbinado sugar as the recipe calls for (rear ramekin) and on the second I used superfine granulated sugar (front ramekin). The superfine sugar melted faster and created a more even crust. The turbinado started to burn way before all the sugar had melted. I felt out of control, and, like Cher in Clueless, I really hate that.
The custard was dreamy with a noticeable vanilla flavor and the crust was beautifully crisp. Todiefor!
Preheat oven to 300° with the rack in the lower third of the oven. Set a pot of water on the stove to boil. Place two 4-5 oz ramekins in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet if you are using shallow dishes.
In a small pot combine ½ cup of the heavy cream, sugar and salt. Gently bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently with a whisk.
Remove cream from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Add the remaining heavy cream to further cool the mixture.
In a medium, heatproof bowl whisk the yolks until smooth and well combined. Add the vanilla extract and ¼ cup of the cream mixture while continuously whisking to combine.
Continue to add the heavy cream mixture by the ¼ cup until the custard is smooth and the color is a uniform pale yellow.
Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a 2-cup measuring cup. Discard any chunks that are caught by the strainer.
Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it is half way up the sides of the ramekins. Then evenly divide the custard between the two ramekins.
Place the roasting dish with the custards into the preheated oven taking care not to splash any water into the ramekins. (But know, if you do, don’t fret about it. They’ll be fine)
Bake for 20-40 minutes depending on the depth of your dishes. Mine baked about 28 minutes. I took them out when the sides were set but the middle was still wobbly.
When the custards were done, I siphoned most of the water out of the roasting dish with a turkey baster prior to removing the pan from the oven. I then moved the dishes to a wire cooling rack with a large, sturdy spatula to cool.
Cool 1 hour or until custard is room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 4 days.
To Finish the Crème Brûlée:
Remove custards from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the plastic wrap and blot any condensation on the surface of the custard.
Sprinkle 2 teaspoons superfine sugar relatively evenly over the surface of the custard. [Note: if you use a deeper dish, then you will need to reduce the amount of sugar for the brûlée.]
With a kitchen blow-torch, move the flame across the surface of the custard in small circles – never staying in one spot for too long – until the sugar has all melted and it has reached the level of caramelized that you prefer. The sugar will harden as it cools.
Serve immediately. Do not place the brûléed custard back in the refrigerator. This would be a travesty!
Note: You could easily double this recipe for 4 servings. In fact, I recommend that you do. The more the merrier! Am I right or am I right?!
You can also brûlée the sugar under a broiler, but I have heard that this provides less control over the finished product.