Irresistible Crème Brûlée (Burnt Cream!)

Crème Brûlée is one of those dishes you never forget once you’ve tasted it! What’s not to love about creamy custard with a caramelized sugar coating?

We got four desserts for the four of us . . . this isn’t JUST my tray!

Everywhere we traveled through France, there were amazing desserts, but even though Crème Brûlée is simple, always the same, and almost a “staple,” it’s such a classic taste that it’s pretty irresistible.

So, if you’d like to create your own irresistible dessert that’s so mild everyone from your toothless great granny down to your toothless six-month old will love it, try this!

Irresistible Crème Brûlée
(Serves 6)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Place 6 ramekins in a baking dish on the counter. Prepare a tea kettle full of boiling water.

Next, in a saucepan, heat:
2 cups heavy whipping cream until starting to bubble at edges (just below simmering)

While the cream is heating, in a stainless steel mixing bowl, whisk together:
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

When the cream is hot, add it slowly to the egg mixture, blending until uniformly mixed.

Next, pour the custard evenly into the 6 ramekins.

Carefully pour the boiling water from your teapot (or whatever) into the bottom of the baking dish so that it is just about as deep as the dishes full of the cream mixture. (This will make the pan super hot, so have it on a cutting board or some other heat resistant surface, and use hot pads when you transfer it into the oven.) Place the baking dish in the hot oven on the top rack and bake for 35 minutes at 325°F or until the mixture is starting to set but is still jiggly in the middle.

Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Remove the ramekins from the water and allow them to cool completely, then place them in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly (which takes about 2 hours hours; overnight also works fine, but then cover them after they’re cold).

(This is a bit of an aside, but when I have a little extra and bake it in the oven without the benefit of its being in a bath of boiling water, it tastes almost as creamy, although there’s a bit of a drier edge—as pictured above. So, to be a true gourmet, I think you do need the baby as well as the bath water!)

Shortly before serving them (or before you serve dinner if they are to be your dessert), turn on your broiler oven to heat up, preparing a top rack that’s about 6 inches beneath the broiler unit.

Then, sprinkle the tops of the chilled creme evenly with a mixture made from:
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoon white sugar

Place the ramekins under the broiler and let them broil for 2-4 minutes, or until all the sugar melts and starts to turn a golden brown. (This is the hardest part, so watch the sugar like a hawk. It can go from crystalized to burnt in a minute!)

Remove immediately and return them to the refrigerator so the crème brûlée cools and the sugar resolidifies and becomes brittle (which usually takes 15+ minutes if you can stand to wait that long. For this reason, I recommend completing the crème brûlées before dinner. They’ll survive an hour in the fridge and still taste perfect). If you’re really into making crème brûlée, you can buy a kitchen torch to melt the sugar, but I bought one that never worked very well, and so I’ve reverted to the broiler method, which is less precise but certainly simple! 🙂 They don’t call it “burnt” cream for nothing!!

It’s pretty much perfect ungarnished, although you can always add a few fresh berries and a touch of whipping cream to make it look especially gourmet!

To eat it, you have to crack the top with your spoon and then scoop out a little of the creme with a little of the sugar brittle topping. Also, if your ramekins are shallow with a greater surface area than the ones I use, then you might want to use 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and 2 of white.

To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever” (Psalm 30:12).

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