The Difficulty for this recipe is moderate. The Prep Time is approximately 15 minutes. The Cooking Time is approximately 40-45 minutes.
Here is the updated table:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for caramelizing
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C) and arrange six ovenproof ramekins on a baking tray.
- In a medium saucepan, pour the heavy cream and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean. If you’re using vanilla extract, hold off on adding it for now. Bring the cream to a gentle simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture becomes smooth and pale yellow. Slowly pour the hot cream into the egg mixture, stirring constantly to prevent curdling.
- If you’re using vanilla extract instead of the vanilla bean, add it at this stage. Stir until well combined, creating a velvety custard.
- Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any lumps or vanilla bean residue. This step will ensure a silky smooth texture in your final dish.
- Divide the custard evenly among the ramekins, pouring it up to 3/4 of the way up each ramekin. This space is vital for the caramelized sugar topping.
- Place the baking tray with the filled ramekins into the preheated oven. Carefully pour hot water into the baking tray, creating a water bath that surrounds the ramekins. This will provide gentle heat and ensure even cooking.
- Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until the custard is set around the edges but still slightly jiggly in the center. You want there to be a delicate wobble when gently shaken.
- Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let them cool for a few minutes. Then cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight for best results. Chilling allows the custard to firm up and develop its irresistible texture.
- When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle a thin layer of granulated sugar evenly over the top of each custard. Use a kitchen torch to carefully caramelize the sugar, moving the flame in a circular motion until it turns golden brown and creates a satisfying crackling crust.
- Allow your Crème Brûlée to sit for a minute or two, allowing the sugar topping to cool and harden into a tantalizingly crisp shell.
Tips and Variations:
- Experiment with different flavor infusions. Add a hint of citrus zest, a splash of brandy, or a pinch of cinnamon to the custard for a unique twist.
- To create an extra depth of flavor, substitute a portion of the heavy cream with flavored cream like coffee, chocolate, or coconut.
- For a visual treat, top your Crème Brûlée with fresh berries or a sprig of mint before caramelizing the sugar.
- If you don’t have a kitchen torch, place the ramekins under a broiler for a few minutes until the sugar caramelizes. Watch carefully to avoid burning.
Crème Brûlée, with its creamy custard and caramelized sugar crust, is a dessert that embodies both elegance and comfort. Its rich history and scrumptious flavor profile transport us to a world where every bite becomes an indulgence worth savoring. I invite you to embrace the artistry of this French masterpiece and create your own sweet symphony in the kitchen. Bon appétit!