I got my boyfriend a kitchen torch for his birthday because he mentioned he wanted to make creme brulee, a dessert we devoured almost nightly when we went to Paris last fall. Mostly I think he just wanted an excuse to torch shit. (It was my favourite part of making it.)
The first time we made it I was blown away by how delicious it was (I also couldn't believe that my boyfriend, the self-described worst baker ever, made a French staple that was better than what's made in many restaurants.)
The only tiny critique we both had was that the sugar top wasn't hard or thick enough. So we decided to try it again, natch.
This time we experimented and used dark brown sugar for one top and white granular sugar for the second top to see if there was a difference in taste and texture. I came out loving the white sugar while Mike had a thing for the brown sugar, which was perfect because I didn't want to share!
I've loved creme brulee ever since I first went to Paris when I was 21 where I not only discovered an ever-lasting love with fashion (and designer bags) but also French cuisine. Whenever I try a new restaurant, I always ask for creme brulee for dessert if they have it on the menu which has resulted in some truly horrible creme brulees and some mind-blowing creme brulees. (Le Papillion on Front has an excellent version.)
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean split and scraped
- 1 pinch of salt
- 8 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 16 tsp sugar for glazing (can be white or brown)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Farenheit. In a medium saucepan, scald cream with vanilla bean and stalk until surface begins to shimmer. Remove stalk and discard.
In a large heatproof bowl, whip egg yolks to combine (don't overwhip!) with granulated sugar and salt. Temper the egg mixture with hot milk, stirring gently. Strain custard mix into large measuring cup. Skim off any bubbles.
Arrange eight shallow 4 1/2 inch ramekins in a roasting pan. Slowly pour custard evenly in ramekins filling them almost to the top. Set in centre of oven rack. Pour enough boiling water into pan to reach half way up to the ramekins. Loosely cover the pan with tin foil and bake for one hour or until the edges of the custards are firm and the middle still jiggles a little in the centre.
Transfer ramekins to a wire rack to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least three hours or up to two days.
Set custards on rack and sprinkle sugar evenly over top until there's a nice, thick layer. Torch the sugar evenly, starting from the outside in a circle and work your way in until the sugar has caramelized. Let cool slightly and serve immediately.