We've been in apple overload ever since we went apple picking a few weeks ago. Apple crisp, apple cake in a cast iron skillet (damn you, Pioneer Woman! And I mean that in the most loving way), baked apples, a small batch of applesauce, and keeping it simple and healthy by just grabbing a fresh apple when hunger strikes.
But I'm not here to talk about any of those things! Ha! Maybe someday. Until then, let's talk about creme brulee. I love this. Waaaay back when we used to eat out for special occasions, I'd order this dessert. So simple but elegant at the same time. These days, I much prefer making those fancier meals at home. It's not that we lack willing and doting grandparents to babysit. I just like being able to make those meals myself as cooking and baking to me is 1)relaxing and 2) it's my way of showing someone I care for them. When I planned out our wedding anniversary dinner last week, I decided to try making this for the first time. It was time to give the ramekins a purpose. And the little torch! Who doesn't love using the little torch?
(hint from The Spice Rack: buy this from a home improvement store and you'll save about 90% of what you'll pay at a speciality kitchen gadget store)
What the heck was I waiting for? This was so ridiculously simple to make. And there's nothing more satisfying than cracking through the caramelized sugar top. Yeah, it's rich, but you can make these in small ramekins and really, they just beg to be shared.Creme Brulee
adapted ever so slightly from Alton Brown
1 quart heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (alternatively, you could use 1 1/2 tsp of a high quality pure vanilla extract)
1 cup white sugar, divided
6 large egg yolks
2 quarts hot water
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes. If using vanilla extract, just add it to the cream once it comes up to a boil.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into 6-8 (7 ounce) ramekins. I only had 6 and probably could have filled 8 of them. I just cooked the rest in a small baking dish. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. I was able to fit my 6 ramekins in a 10x13 baking dish for a perfect fit. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes. Mine took 45 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
Remove the creme brulee from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup vanilla sugar equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving. You can do this step ahead of time and just put them back in the fridge if you are serving this for a dinner party. I wouldn't recommend doing this more than 6 hours ahead. The hardened sugar will eventually get soft and then liquefy. You wouldn't want that to happen!