Crème de la Crème.
I’ve been watching a copious amount of Food Network over the past month or two. The Holidays are creeping up ever so quickly and instead of getting busy in my own kitchen, I’ve become irrevocably mesmerized by what’s been going on in Ina’s or Giada’s or well, in Kitchen Stadium (since I am officially obsessed with The Next Iron Chef). Perhaps this (or Jersey Shore, God forbid) is what has been withholding me from my own beloved kitchen and keeping me oh-so-comfortably plopped on my belly, eyes glued to the screen. (Eh hem – it is apparent that this is all despite the never ending piles and piles of papers, presentations, readings, and so on and so forth that I try very hard to avoid and ignore to no avail). Nevertheless, I realize that the festivities are nearing and I better hop chop to it!
Or, in this case, I better get crackin’! Crème brûlée has to be one of my all-time favorite desserts. To me, it represents The Holidays in a nutshell an eggshell (oh boy, I’m feeling quite pun-ny today – please, accept this apology in advance before I commit another heinous act of unnecessary gimmickry to repel you once and for all from my undeservingly neglected blog). Although this dessert really resonates the month of December for me and surely for many others, I recently saw it being prepared on an episode of Barefoot Contessa and haven’t been able to get my mind off it since. Hence, in order to free my mind of such sweet and creamy distractions, I had had had to make it (and eat it)!
I realize that I may have taken the whole “burnt cream” thing a little too literally (refer to first image) and sure, my hardened sugar caramel layer may appear to be a bit thick. Let me assure you though, it was delicious to the very last bit of soft, rich vanilla custard remaining in the creases of my lovely little ramekins. Plus, I really like the crunch and sweetness of the burnt sugar on top.
Adapted (just a tad) from Barefoot Contessa
Serves 5 (I only had 4 individual ramekins, but it was enough for 5)
1 extra-large egg
4 extra-large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/2 tbspn for each serving (or an little bit extra for that slightly thicker layer)
3 cups heavy cream
1 tspn pure vanilla extract
1 tbspn lime zest (Ina uses orange liqueur – preferably Grand Marnier)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
In a bowl, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together with a whisk until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it’s very hot to the touch but not boiled. While mixing, slowly add the cream to the eggs (so that the eggs don’t cook). Add the vanilla and lime zest (or orange liqueur) and pour into ramekins until almost full.
Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.
To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch or broil in the oven until the sugar carmelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.