Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Creamiest Crème Brulée





I take crème brulée very seriously. For a good chunk of my life, I thought it was gross. (Sacrilege, I know.) It wasn't until my first trip to France, when I was 21, where I realized that not only was crème brulée not gross, but it was one of the most delicious desserts in the world. Vive le France, amiright?



It wasn't until I came back from that trip, thinking I was all cultured and shit, that I realized it's really difficult to make a great crème brulée. For months after my return home, I ordered crème brulée at any restaurant that offered it, and was often disappointed.

Much of the crème brulée I devoured either had a watery filling or a too-thin top that didn't have enough "crackle."

Since then, I've found a couple of great restaurants that serve delicious crème brulée (The Ancaster Mill had an excellent Smores version and La Societe makes a really great citrus version) but I always wondered how hard it would be to make one at home.



Turns out, pretty damn hard. It took several tries to perfect this recipe; and even after that I found it was hard to perfect it every single time.  Sometimes the top was either too thick or too thin; sometimes the sugar was uneven or burnt; sometimes the filling was too watery or too thick. Basically, a lot of things can go wrong when making this bastard dessert.

But when you get it right? Oh damn, it's so worth it and so so good. Like, ermahgerd I'm in sexual heaven right now Idris Elba has nothing on this good. Like, make you believe in monogamy you'll never look at another dessert again good.



Try it once. Try it again. And then try it again and tell me I'm not right. I dare you.

Crème Brulée
Adapted from AllRecipes.com
Makes four servings

Ingredients:

- 6 egg yolks
- 6 tbsp white sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tbsp brown sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Beat egg yolks, 4 tbsp white sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl until thick and creamy.

3. Pour cream into a saucepan and stir over low heat until it almost comes to a boil. Remove the cream from heat immediately. Stir cream into the egg yolk mixture; beat until combined.

4. Pour cream mixture into the top pan of a double boiler. Stir over simmering water until mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. Remove mixture from heat immediately and pour into a shallow heat-proof dish, or four ramekins.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

6. In a small bowl combine remaining 2 tbsp white sugar and brown sugar. Sift this mixture evenly over custard. Use a culinary torch to heat the sugar topping, and make sure to heat all sides evenly. Watch it carefully so you don't over-heat it. If you don't have a torch, turn on the broiler in your oven and place dish (or ramekins) under broiler until sugar melts, about two minutes. (But it's much more fun if you use a torch!)

7. Allow to cool and refrigerate until custard is set again.



Saturday, April 2, 2016

Mini Egg Brownies







If you know me, then you know that I'm a Mini Eggs fiend. I live for the excuse come Easter time to stock up on the family size packs (which is actually perfect for a family of one - ME) and eat them until my stomach turns inside out.

Normally, I make Mini Egg cookies for Easter but this year I was craving even more chocolate so I came up with the brilliant idea of making Mini Egg brownies. 


Because I wanted this baking process to be quick and dirty (I'm nearing the end of a Grey's Anatomy hate-watch marathon and holy Shonda this show really sucks without Cristina - sorry, S!) I used ingredients that I already had in my pitifully small kitchen and used a recipe from a box of Baker's chocolate. 

I've never been that person who cuts out recipes from the inside of packages. Chocolate, cereal... and that's all I can think of. You get the point. But this recipe? This recipe changed MY LIFE.



In fact, I'm eating one of the brownies (that's right- I made a second batch) right now for breakfast and I'm totally OK with my life choices.

This brownie is really sweet, dense, moist (ugh, I hate that word. It's right up there with my hatred for the word 'panties.' EW.) and really filling. In short, you should totally have one for breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, lunch and supper.


The original recipe calls for chopped pecans (which are also delicious and go really well with brownies) but I substituted them for the Mini Eggs because I had two large bags of them and I felt  that it wouldn't be the greatest idea to eat both bags on my own, although let's be clear: I can do this no problem. 

I also thought it would be great to have double chocolate brownies because brownies on their own clearly don't have enough chocolate.


I also cheated a bit. I didn't make the icing. (Sacrilege, I know.) Instead, I used something even better: Duncan Hines chocolate icing (#NoRegrets). It's so smooth and creamy and utterly mouth-watering and perfect for the lazy baker such as myself.

Alright, let's do this!


Mini Egg Brownies

Ingredients:

- 4 oz. Baker's unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 3/4 cup butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup crushed Mini Eggs (can be substituted for your favourite nuts like pecans or walnuts)

1. Heat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a pot on medium low heat until the chocolate is melted. Turn off the heat. Stir until butter is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Add sugar and mix well. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour and Mini Eggs.

3. Spread mixture into a 13x9 inch greased pan.

4. Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in centre comes out mostly clean, although it's ok for it to have a bit of chocolate on it, as long as it's not too wet. Do not overbake!