My friend Kim is an amazing lady. Her and her husband are a constant example to us of what it means to be generous – with our time, our money, and our hearts. It was our pleasure to host Kim and some friends for her birthday dinner on our patio last Friday and I was thrilled when I learned that crème brûlée is her favorite dessert.
I’ve been making crème brûlée for years, but only on special occasions. Don’t be intimidated though, it’s simple dish to make. It just takes some time and extra care … and a lot of cream, eggs, and sugar!
Special supplies: 6-8 oven safe ramekins and a small kitchen torch (Note: I once used my dad’s regular torch from the garage. It worked but I think my mom almost had a heart attack when she saw me using the blow torch in the kitchen.)
1 quart heavy whipping cream
1 (juicy!) mexican vanilla bean (I find the best deal and quality of vanilla beans to be at Penzy’s Spices.)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
berries of choice for garnish
Carefully slice your vanilla bean in half, lengthwise and scrape out the center. Add the bean shell and insides to the cream in a heavy saucepan. Bring the mixture to a broil slowly over medium heat stirring often. Once it has reached a boil, remove it from the heat, cover, and let rest for ten minutes to cool slightly.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
While the cream is cooling, make your vanilla sugar. Combine the sugar and vanilla extract. Fluff with a fork until well combined and homogenous in color. Whisk together the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the vanilla sugar.
Next, prepare your baking dishes. Place ramekins into a 9×13 baking dish (I needed 2 dishes for all of my ramekins, 4 in each 9×13 pan).
Once the cream has cooled slightly, whisk a generous ladle of the cream mixture into the egg yolks. Add one ladle at a time until the entire mixture is incorporated. Pour the mixture into the waiting ramekins. Fill the surrounding 9×13 pan with hot water until the water comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins holding the cream. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. The cream should be just set and still a bit jiggly, barely starting to brown on top if at all.
Once removed from the oven, store in the refrigerator for a minimum of three hours before serving. When ready to serve, top each ramekin with a thin, even layer of the remaining vanilla sugar. Gently torch until a nice golden brown shell covers the top. Garnish with berries and serve immediately.
(If you, by some miracle, have leftovers, wait to torch them until you are ready to eat them!)