Creme Brûlée


(paired with Sauternes Dessert Wine)image
Makes four ramekins

4 T sugar + 1 T raw per ramekin
2 cups cream
4 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp vanilla or one bean

Special equipment: 4 (4-ounces) flameproof ramekins; a small blowtorch
preparation (I like an Iwatani torch and butane can come from a hardware store)

Put oven rack in middle position or just below and preheat oven to 300-325῰F.
split vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds out with a knife. Add vanilla bean and seeds (or vanilla/vanilla paste), to a saucepan along with the cream and lemon zest. Slowly warm cream mixture over medium heat, just until foam begins to form around edge. Remove from heat, and let mingle for about 10-15 minutes. Add pinch of salt.

In a bowl, fold together the egg yolks and sugar until it begins to slightly thicken. Be careful not to whisk too much air in.

While continuing to stir, first temper then very gradually add the cream mixture into the egg/sugar mixture until all is combined to create the custard base. Work slowly to avoid cooking the eggs. Strain the custard base through a fine-mesh sieve into a quart-size glass measurer. Pour even amounts into the ramekins.

Tip: When baking the crème brûlée in a hot water bath, keep the oven on 300° F (150° C). This will give you a crème brûlée that sets with the right texture, without browning. (If you don’t use a hot water bath, but put the crème brûlée directly into the oven, put the oven on 200° F (95° C).

Arrange ramekins in a roasting pan and bake in a water bath until custards are just set around edge but centers jiggle when pan is gently shaken, 30 to 35 minutes for deep/20 minutes for shallow ramekins. Remove from pan and chill, uncovered, at least 4 hours. (Custards will set completely as they chill.) Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar evenly over each custard, then move blowtorch flame evenly back and forth close to sugar until sugar is caramelized. Let stand until caramel is hardened, 3 to 5 minutes.


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