Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee…

Creme brulee is my all time favorite dessert.  I have a sweet tooth for caramel, but I never order dessert at a restaurant unless there’s creme brulee.  It’s name literally translates to “burnt cream” and is a classic French dessert.  Watching the sugar melt and form a hard crust still makes me giddy like a kid in a candy store.

Depending on how heavy I want it to be, I’ll use all whipping cream or equal parts of cream and half and half.  This recipe uses full cream for the rich, decadent flavor.

As for topping off, pretty much any recipe you find uses granulated sugar.  However, I stumbled upon a different method on a whim.  I like the flavor of raw turbinado sugar.  It’s often found in packets (Sugar in the raw) at coffee shops or as turbinado sugar in stores.  It has a more caramel-like taste.  Also, when it melts, it forms a harder crust.  It does take longer to burn than white sugar, but it’s worth the extra few seconds.  You can also use a half-half mixture of this and white sugar.

I made different sizes for the kids and adults.  These are just coming out of the fridge.

Top it off with sugar, add flame and….

A lovely creamy piece of heaven awaits you.  I like mine very caramelized for an intense flavor.

Vanilla sugar is white sugar flavored with vanilla.  Whenever you use a vanilla bean, dry it out and throw it in the sugar container.  It’ll add a nice aroma to your sugar.

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee

1 quart heavy whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
6 egg yolks
Hot water

Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Place cream, vanilla bean, and the pulp in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat, cover, and let sit 15 minutes. Remove bean and save (i.e. sugar).

In a medium bowl, whisk sugar and egg yolks together until it lightens to a pale yellow.  Add the hot cream a little at a time to temper the eggs.  Don’t add too much or they will cook.  Mix well, then pour into ramekins (choose whatever size you want; the norm is 6 oz).  Place ramekins in a large roasting pan.  Fill the pan with hot water so it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Bake until they are set, but still jiggle in the middle, about 40-45 minutes.

Remove and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days to chill.  Take them out at least 30 minutes before burning the sugar on them.  Spoon some turbinado sugar onto each ramekin.  Rotate dish around to coat the top evenly, then dump the rest out onto another.  Using a torch, melt the sugar evenly (use either a circular motion or zig zag; just don’t stay on one spot).  Let the top crisp up for a few minutes before serving.

*next up…oven smoked pork sandwiches…*

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