classic crème brulee, a la Julia Child

My sister is a huge fan of anything Crème Brulee.  We were on a cruise once, and the dessert options included a Grand Marnier Crème Brulee. She nearly birthed a chicken on the spot.  Me?  I can take it or leave it, as I am not all that in to custardy desserts.  Especially flan. Gag. I can’t take that consistency.  It’s like congealed old milk.  And speaking of congealed, what’s with the obsession in Julia Child’s cookbooks with aspics? Aspic is like a big, fat mistake…definitely not something I would make on purpose.  I’ve never been sitting around thinking, Hmmm. I have a few whole fish with eyeballs still, and you know what? I think I’ll just boil down some fish bones and spare parts, make some Jell-O out of it, and suspend those dead suckers right in the middle of it. Nahhhhsty. Who thinks of crap like that? cremeb1 

But back to crème brulee.  I thought I could take it or leave it.  But that was before I made the crème brulee from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Dear Lord.  I only made one change…yes, just one!  Instead of using vanilla extract, I used one whole vanilla bean – another Tongan from Beanilla – and steeped it in the heavy cream while it cooked.  I topped the cooled custards with brown sugar (instead of white, which melts more smoothly to give you that flat shell you are used to) and it offered a nice, sweet addition after I hit it with the torch. The little almost burned spots? Imagine toasted marshmallows, followed by a taste of the best vanilla ice cream you’ve ever had.  That’s the best I can do to describe it!

I’m not sure why, after all this time, I hadn’t made crème brulee.  Honestly, I had never even read the recipe entirely, or I would have known how easy it really is. Whoudda thunk it? Doesn’t “crème brulee” just sound all fussy and complicated? Let me demystify it for you…it’s not. A few egg yolks, some whipping crème, a little sugar – that’s it. If you can temper eggs, you’ve got this one. (Trust me, you can temper eggs if I can.)  Give it a try, I know you’ll be thrilled!

cremeb2

Classic Crème Brulee

adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 5 tablespoons white sugar ( I use Domino)
  • 1 teaspoon Cornstarch
  • 1 3/4 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 Vanilla Bean (I prefer Beanilla Vanilla Beans)
  • Brown or White Sugar for Candy Topping

In stand mixer or with hand mixer, beat egg yolks with the 5 Tablespoons of sugar about 3 minutes, until ribbon forms.  Then beat in the cornstarch for another minute.

In medium saucepan over medium-low heat, bring heavy cream and scraped vanilla bean (you can even throw the whole pod in there as well) to a boil.

Slowly, very slowly, a few drops at a time, add the boiling cream to the egg mixture to temper the eggs while the mixer is running on LOW. This prevents the eggs from cooking.  Continue to add the cream until it is all incorporated. Remove the vanilla pod – just throw it away.

Return the mixture to the saucepan over moderate heat, watching very closely, and never allow it to simmer. Stir constantly. The sauce will thicken as it cooks – but do not let it get above 170 on your candy thermometer.  It should be thick enough to coat the back of your spoon.

Pour into shallow bowls and refrigerate for several hours. Sprinkle with sugar and use your torch to crystallize it, or, alternatively, place in a preheated broiler for about 5 minutes.  Top with fresh fruit if you like. (The strawberry was wonderful!)

 

cremebspoonNow, I have some good news for all of you with Beanilla Envy.  The prices they offer are already great, but, if you order and type in DOUGHMESSTIC in the coupon code field, you’ll get an extra 5% off your purchase.  i really can’t tell you how much I love the quality of their product – it has made a lot of difference in my baking flavorwise!

Have  a great day! (and try to stay warm! What’s going on with all this COLD everywhere? Don’t say winter…it’s been winter before without all this frigidity!) See you next time!

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    Yummy creme brulee! One of my favorite desserts ever :) I once made the Alton Brown recipe and it turned out great but now I want to try Julia's recipe. Delicious!

  2. Love the stuff, never made it. I don't own a torch, expect Jamie's welding stuff in the back garage. I should give it a try though,got a whole new set of perfect little ramekins for Christmas. One thing, I won't be topping mine with strawberries, not even for a photo, those things are crazy priced at the store!! LOL!! I might used some 90% off candy from Target or something.

    Looks great, as always, Susan!

  3. myblissfulbites says:

    Creme Brulee is my favorite dessert. Yours looks fabulous

  4. I AM going to make this for Valentine's Day. It's decided.

  5. Looks delicious…mmmm. I love eating it but have never made one myself. Time to try. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Finnskimo says:

    Hey Bethie…the shop torch works GREAT. I can't justify a little torch up in northern AK, but since we have a shop torch…its the same thing anyway, that works for me.

    LOVE this recipe. Thanks.

  7. My husband loves creme brulee and I never make it. It does sound easy. I'm going to try it.

    And you're so right about vanilla beans! They make a huge difference in baking! I'm going to try some from Beanilla.

  8. Yum, yum…I love custards and flans so I know I'd love Creme Brulee

  9. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction says:

    I adore creme brulee… I haven't made any recently. I will have to make some with the vanilla bean paste I picked up.

  10. cookies and cups says:

    Glad it turned out…I have the same initial reaction to custard and think flan might just be the grossest thing ever. I agree about the aspics too. Who would eat that??
    Your creme brulee looks amazing and glad to hear that it wasn't hard!

  11. Beautiful Brule! Thanks for all the good tips.

  12. I have never been a big custard fan either, but I did eye this in Julia's book (a wonderful Christmas surprise) and now think I will give it a whirl. Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. Also, in the newer version of the volume one Mastering the Art of French cooking, she recommends a praline topping; it is a lot of work, but you could do it in advance if you don’t need the dessert right away. For some reason, her recipe, unlike others, tells you to return it to a pot to broil and most tell you to put it in a pan in the oven and bake it. I don’t think that changes the taste.

  14. And strawberries are more affordable when in season.

  15. Elisa B says:

    Yum! I love creme brulee and always wanted to make it at home.

  16. I’m not sure if it’s the “it should coat the back of your spoon” and maybe I’m not cooking it long enough once incorporated, but the creme brulees come out the consistency of runny pudding. This is after 6 hours of chilling at 36 Fahrenheit. What could I be doing wrong?

    • doughmesstic says:

      It sounds like perhaps you aren’t cooking it long enough. Mine set up perfectly – it’s s Julia Child recipe, after all! :)

      • I tried it again last night keeping the cooking temperature below 170 but above 150,stirring for 25 minutes. It has set better, but still has the consistency of an overcooked bechamel. Everything else in the process appears to be exactly what you would expect, even the cooking stage, it just never sets.

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