Sunday, 24 May 2009

Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee is an all-time classic dessert that seems to have been a victim of its own success. After being a staple on menus for so many years it became unfashionable (how can ANYTHING so custardy be unfashionable??) but now seems to be enjoying a surge in popularity. For which I say – Hurrah!

Regular readers will recall my Cambridge Burnt Cream which is actually the forerunner of crème brulee. Comparing the two, the crème brulee recipe I have chosen is actually slightly richer as it uses more egg yolks. Mmmmm egg yolks.....

We all have our list of ‘things-that-if-someone-doesn’t-like-it-alerts-you-to-the-fact-they-might-be-dodgy’. Creme brulee is definitely on mine; show me someone (without an egg or dairy allergy) who doesn’t like crème brulee and I will conclude they are a wrong ‘un. Those interested in the machinations of my mind might be interested to know that the following randomly selected things also appear on the list: dogs, glove puppets, Eric Cartman, vanilla, cake (gosh, who knew?), Christmas, hedgehogs, the seaside, and Kevin Spacey.

I also wanted to make crème brulee after finding my gorgeous new terracotta dishes. Kitchen and bakeware is a purely emotional thing for me – my brain never questions do I need it? Where will I store it? Doesn’t that other item you bought do the same thing? I see it, I love it, I buy it – a modern twist on Julius Caesar’s ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’. These were purchased from Amazon and I love them so much that I have, on more than one occasion, taken one down from the shelf to stroke it.

Unless my oven is rubbish, and I don’t think it is as I don’t find this with any other recipes, crème brulee always takes longer to cook than the recipe states. You’re meant to remove the dishes from the oven when the custard is set but still wobbly. I always find that, after the recommended cooking time, my custard is still liquid. In case your oven is different, I set out the recommended time and the time mine took in the recipe below.

500ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
100g caster sugar, plus approx 1 tablespoon per ramekin to make the topping
6 egg yolks

This recipe will make 6 portions if using standard sized ramekins. I doubled it up and found this worked fine

How to make:
- Preheat the oven to 140°C/fan oven 120°C/275°F/Gas mark 1.
- Place the cream in a saucepan.
- Slice the vanilla pod in two and scrape the seeds outs. Place both the seeds and the pod in the cream.
- Bring the cream to boiling point then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, beat the sugar and egg yolks until thick and creamy. It should look almost like yellow whipped cream.
- Bring the cream back up to boiling point then pour through a sieve over the eggs.
- Whisk until the custard thickens slightly.
- Sieve again into a large bowl or jug to ensure there are no lumps.
- Using a ladle, fill your ramekins or dishes. Don’t overfill as you need room for the sugar topping.
- Stand the ramekins in a large roasting tray and pour hot water into the tray so the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake in the oven until the custard is set but still a little wobbly in the centre. The recipe said this would take 30 minutes but mine took an hour.
- Remove from the oven and lift the ramekins out of the water – I found this was easy using a fish slice.
- Leave to cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Before serving sprinkle approximately 1 level tablespoon of caster sugar on the top of each custard.
- Using a kitchen blow torch or grill, heat the sugar until it bubbles and caramelises.
- Leave to cool for a couple of minutes, then serve.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.


C said...

Wow, they look stunning - the custard looks so silkily smooth and inviting. I always worry about breaking into the creme brulee and finding, horror of horrors, graininess, but yours look perfect!

I'm so with you on the bakeware. I have no room in my kitchen, but the rational part of my brain is bypassed entirely when it comes to cooking.....

J.Danger said...

I LOVE Creme Brulee. When I was pregnant with my first son, it was one of those things that I could not go near! EVER! But thank god, I have rekindled my love affair with creme brulee.

trashalou said...

Again, oh. Does it help if I can concur with the rest of your list?

Creme Brulee (once past the delicious toffee-y-crunch bit) is always such a let down, kind of like a pot of unpleasant clotted cream. Or perhaps I have always just managed to choose bad versions?

Ling's Passion said...

I too love Creme Brulee. What's more comforting and eating silky smooth custardy Creme Brulee. Am drooling now.

Justin said...

i have to find my mini blow torch and make creme brulee again soon!

Margaret said...

Both the creme brulee and the terracotta pots look fabulous.
I would be proud of the pots too!!

Cakelaw said...

These look mouth-wateringly delicious Crusader. I am definitely not a wrong 'un - I love creme brulee. Your terracotta dishes are just perfect.

Emily said...

I absolutely love creme brulee. Don't you think it's like the ultimate dessert? Ohhh I get shivers just thinking about it.

Looks great!

A_and_N said...

the brulee looks great! at least you have the guts to try it. I am still scared to use a torch and destroy what would be a lovely custard ;)

Katie said...

Look wonderful. I love the dishes - so rustic

♥Rosie♥ said...

I just L-O-V-E Creme Brulee. I adore your terracotta dishes.

Oh where is my spoon to crack the top of that burnt sugar? Just going off to find it ;0)

Rosie x

Maria said...

Looks perfect!!

glamah16 said...

Dodgey indeed! Who the hell wouldnt like that creamy custard?

Lisa said...

I love creme brulee. Alas, I have only ever succeeded in making scrambled egg brulee. Mine always turns out crap so I've pretty much given up hope. I envy you. :)

José said...


Here in Portugal is known as "leite creme" (something like cream milk, not milk cream).
Try searching for images of it.
I don't want to post a link to a blog in here, but there's one that I'm sure would cause you watering mouth.
E-mail me and I'll send you the link.

Kind regards,