Ladies Night In

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.

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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.

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There was a lovely cheese plate.

My HipstaPrint 995972809_18The 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.

My HipstaPrint 995972809_11It was delicious but really, we’re all here for the dessert, yes?

My HipstaPrint 995972809_21I used the recipe from my Cook’s Illustrated cookbook.

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.

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Split it in half lengthwise.

My HipstaPrint 995972809_23Use the side of the knife to scrape out the pod- all the seeds and gooey insides.

My HipstaPrint 995972809_7Measure out two cups of cream.

My HipstaPrint 995972809_3Measure your sugar.


My HipstaPrint 995972809_19Combine 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.

My HipstaPrint 995972809_17  After it has boiled, remove it from the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes so that it gets as vanilla-y as possible.

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.

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Eggs, pre-whisking

Whisk about one cup of the cream mixture into the egg yolks until combined.

My HipstaPrint 995972809_22Add another cup and whisk again.  Add the rest of the cream and whisk until thoroughly combined and all one color.  My HipstaPrint 995972809_6Pour this mixture through a fine mesh strainer to get all the solids out.

My HipstaPrint 995972809_16It’s best to strain it into something that will pour easily like a measuring cup or pitcher.

My HipstaPrint 995972809_9Fill 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!

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The stuff floating in the water is custard that sloshed out when I moved the pan. Gross but not to worry, didn’t change the custards in the ramekins!  Isn’t the yellow color beautiful?

Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack and let them cool for about two hours.

My HipstaPrint 995972809_13Once they’ve come to room temperature, place them on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and put them in the fridge for at least four hours and up to four days.

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.

My HipstaPrint 995972809Light ’em up!  and use your torch to carefully caramelize the sugar.

My HipstaPrint 995972809_8My HipstaPrint 995972809_15If you have time, refrigerate them again for about 30-45 minutes (but not any longer).  I never have time for this part and they taste just fine and fancy without the second chill.

My HipstaPrint 995972809_21This is simple at its best.  Crunchy, warm top; smooth, cool, creamy center; sweet but not overpoweringly so.   Bliss!

My HipstaPrint 995972809_5Is there anything more beautiful, food-wise?!




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