Recipe #20: Crème Brûlée

Of all the recipes we’ve done this year, this one made me feel like a ‘real’ chef, so much so that I felt that a video was the only way to share how fun and easy it was to put the finishing touches on this dessert. Notice how the sugar melts slowly into a hard shell.

As the title of this post shows, we made Crème Brûlée : a soft vanilla flavored custard with a hard caramelized sugar top. The custard recipe is pretty straightforward but what makes this dish memorable is the layer of caramelized sugar on top, done with a broiler or a hand torch.

I followed a recipe published by The Pioneer Woman, which turned out to be quite large. With, 4 cups of heavy cream, 1tsp vanilla extract, 10 egg yolks and 3/4 cup of sugar, I made more than 10 servings!

The up side to using such a large recipe was that I was able to use the torch on multiple custard servings – trying out white sugar, brown sugar and a mix of both. Overall the brown sugar quickly melted into circular clumps whereas the white sugar caramelized flat onto the surface and colored nicely but they did take a much longer time to do so. Take a look at the differences :

Caramelized White Sugar
Caramelized Brown Sugar
Brown Sugar Brown Sugar after a bit or torching Clumped Burnt Sugar on the custard

While torching these custards, a small flame would occasionally leap from the top of the custard! This surprised me as I had never seen this happen in any of the cooking videos I watched. However even these burnt sections of the shell, with its bitter taste complemented the custard quite nicely.

As often happens when you buy bananas, I had a few over-ripe onces left over and decided to use it in the custard mix. Here is the play by play, which up until the use of the blow torch reminded me a lot of weekend we made home made ice cream.

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Now, I am on the look out for other recipes that use a hand torch like Baked Alaska, meringues and more. Stay tuned!

P.S. For those of you like me who were a bit apprehensive about using a flame emitting device for the first time, I found this video quite helpful :

I bought a different culinary torch brand but the setup and usage steps were identical and I appreciated the step by step instructions on how to fuel and use the cooking torch safely. Apparently, you can use this torch for other things like jewelry making. Hmm…

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