Only the French could name a delectable dessert “burnt creme” and still make it sound elegant. Week 33: Creme Brulee
Moral of this week’s bake: never assume that your oven has a top broiler. No matter how obvious you think that may be, not all ovens are made equal. As you can pick up from this train of thought – the oven in my apartment only has a bottom broiler. Which, sadly, is useless for making creme brulee. So essentially, I just made creme with sugar on top . . .
I will be purchasing a mini kitchen torch soon. This is a justifiable purchase since I can use it to crisp the top of meringues and other lovely treats. If you can think of other uses for it, please let me know – I have a grand total of two so far. Anyways, I shall remake the creme brulee with torch in hand and it will have the crunchy top of my dreams.
Creme brulee is surprisingly simple to make, considering how intimidating it seems and the elevated status it holds on restaurant dessert menus. You make a thick egg custard and put it on a temperature roller coaster – bake it in the oven until set then chill it in the fridge until cold enough to withstand the burning sugar on top. Being the baker that I am (translation: having little time and needing to get creative) I just popped them in the freezer for 30 minutes instead of waiting for them to slowly cool in the fridge for 2 hours. Worked like a charm!
Suggested playlist for this bake: “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” “Sugar, Sugar,” “Spoonful of Sugar,” etc.
Also sidenote: can everyone appreciate this music video from 1969?
You can watch it once custard is in the oven, but first it has to be simmered and gently mixed.
The recipe called for scalding the cream to infuse the vanilla into it. Scalding dairy always makes me nervous, since it’s so easy to let it boil over or burn. Just takes a little extra focus and it’s easy as pie. So to speak.
(I’m also finally starting to appreciate the safety net of having at least twice the amount of a tricky ingredient than what the recipe calls for. Not having to run out to the store because I got distracted and curdled something – totally worth it!)
Whisked the sugar and egg yolks together until they were the color of the tea kettle. If your kettle is purple, then you’ll have an issue with this step.
Then tempered the egg mixture by adding just a little of the hot cream and whisking consistently, before mixing the rest of the egg into the cream.
Water bath time! It helps to make sure the custard cooks all the way through by keeping the sides at a constant temperature that is milder than the 325 degree air in the oven.
After they baked and chilled, I sprinkled white sugar on the tops and attempted various ways of torching it sans-torch. *Fast-forwarding through the frustrating part* The main takeaway from this is that custard with slightly crispy sugar on top is still super delicious.
Also that a kitchen lighter is not hot enough to do the trick. Unless it has an endless supply of lighter fluid and you have an endless supply of patience. The molten spoon trick that is mentioned in the recipe I was using as a guide seems logical, but I must have cheap spoons because I got a burn spot before it got hot enough. Anyone who wants to look into the science of that, be my guest, but I decided that when the spoon burns, it’s time to cease and desist.
Happy munching! (and crunching if you have a kitchen torch!)
Recipe mostly from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/creme-brulee-without-a-torch-3664168
P.S. – I bought a kitchen torch!
Much baking power, very wow.
Here’s how the creme brulee should have turned out:
So crunchy! I experimented with different levels of burn, and I have to say, the darkest was the yummiest.