I love and adore my girlfriends. They get me through almost all the tough spots in my life. I have so many good ones- some I’ve known forever (really, like since birth or shortly thereafter), some are more recent additions. They are the ones who will take me out for drinks, show up at my house and push me out the door while they watch the kids, or randomly text me with a sweet message when I most need one. I value them immensely.
I got to have a ladies night recently and it was great fun. We each provided a course and, naturally, drank a great deal of wine and prosecco.
My course was dessert, which is my preference. We were celebrating near one friend’s birthday so she got to choose. She is a traditionalist and picked Crème Brûlée. Which was excellent because it meant that I could use my kitchen torch. Who doesn’t love a good kitchen implement?
I also provided a yummy tomato, mozzarella and avocado salad.
There was a lovely cheese plate.
The main course was a pasta puttanesca which was so delicious. C. (of this post) can make it with her eyes closed and it’s so good. I’m hoping one of these days, she’ll be able to blog it.
I won’t say that it’s an “easy” recipe because custard is temperamental but I will say that it wasn’t nearly as hard as I anticipated. You’ll need a kitchen torch, small ramekins (4-5 oz size) and turbinado or demerara sugar to make them perfectly. I did make one larger one because I had a lot of custard leftover but that didn’t really work as well as I’d hoped. So stick to the smaller sizes.
Cook’s Illustrated Classic Crème Brûlée
4 cups chilled heavy cream
2/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean (split in half lengthwise and insides/seeds scraped out)
12 large egg yolks
8-12 teaspoons turbinado or demerara sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Make sure you have a rack on the lower-middle position.
Prepare your vanilla bean.
Split it in half lengthwise.
Combine 2 cups of the cream, the sugar and the salt in a medium saucepan. Add the vanilla seeds/insides of the pod as well as the pod itself to the saucepan. Submerge the pod in the cream as best you can. Bring this to a boil over medium heat. Stir it occasionally to make sure the sugar dissolves.
While it is cooling/infusing, put a kitchen towel or sil-pat in the bottom of a baking dish with sides, large enough to hold eight ramekins. Put the ramekins on top of the towel.
Fill a teakettle or large pot and bring the water to a boil.
Now go back to your cream mixture, which should be cooled and should smell like heaven. Stir in the remaining two cups of cream.
Whisk the egg yolks together in a large bowl until combined.
Whisk about one cup of the cream mixture into the egg yolks until combined.
Fill the ramekins carefully, almost to the top. Place the baking dish holding the ramekins in the oven and then, very carefully, pour the boiling water into the dish, being very careful not to get any water in the ramekins. You want the ramekins to have water about 2/3 of the way up the sides.
Bake until the centers of the custards are just barely set and no longer sloshy. If you have a digital thermometer, you can use that and it should be about 170-175 degrees (Fahrenheit) in the center. This should take about 25-30 minutes. Definitely start checking around 20 minutes- you don’t want overdone custard!
Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack and let them cool for about two hours.
Once you’re ready to serve, take them out of the fridge. If condensation has collected on the tops of the custards, gently place a paper towel on top and let it soak up the moisture. Sprinkle each ramekin with about a teaspoon of the turbinado or demerara sugar (brown sugar and granulated sugar just don’t give the same candy crunch, trust me. It’s worth it to find the right kind!). Tilt and tap the ramekin in order to distribute it evenly over the whole surface.