What Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” is to a beginning guitar player, the Crème Brulee is to the apprentice Chef. This emblematic French dessert is usually the first real restaurant dessert that an apprentice chef learns, and like playing “Stairway” he/she can now impress their friends.
Over the years I have found there to be as many recipes for Crème Brulee as there are Chefs. This is a crème brûlée recipe that I have perfected over those years.
Some crème brûlée recipes you will find need to be in the oven for half a day before they set, others set like a rock, and some curdle as soon as they see the oven. If you stick to this recipe, you will consistently produce a perfectly balanced beautiful crème brulee every time.
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 1/4 cups fresh cream
- 1/4 sugar
- 1/4 milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- Preheat oven to 170 ℃ (340 ℉)
- Combine the milk and cream.
- Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and using the end of a teaspoon or small knife, scrape the seeds into the cream and milk mixture (best result will be achieved if this step is done the day before but not a must).
- Using a whisk, break up egg yolks in a large stainless steel bowl.
- Whisk the sugar into the eggs until dissolved.
- Using a rubber spatula or large spoon, stir in the cream and milk, try to avoid making bubbles but do ensure all the egg has dissolved into the cream mixture.
- Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a pouring jug.
- Place the ramekins in a large oven dish or tray that can accommodate all the ramekins and some water. Fill the ramekins with the mixture to approx half a fingers thickness from the top.
- Place the oven dish on the oven shelf and fill the dish with water until the ramekins are sitting in water 2/3rds of the way up their side (water bath).
- Bake for approx 40 minutes (half way through the baking process, turn the tray around to ensure even heat distribution).
- Remove the Brulees from the baking tray and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours.
- Once ready to serve, remove them from the fridge (use a paper towel to dab off any condensation that may have formed on top of them) and sprinkle the top of each brulee with 1 tbsp of sugar and spread around evenly. (Be sure to wipe any excess sugar off the ramekin rim before proceeding)
- Take the lit kitchen torch and gently pass the flame over the top of the brulees, ensuring that you keep the flame moving. Keep flaming the brulee’s until the sugar has caramelized and turned to a deep deep brown.
- If you do not have a kitchen torch, take your old soup spoon and hold the handle with a folded dry towel and place the ladle end into the flame of one of your stove burners. Hold it there until it glows hot and then roll the base of the hot spoon over the sugar on the Brulees. The same effect of caramelised sugar will be achieved.
- Alternatively you could also use you griller (broiler) at a very high temperature and place the sugar covered brulees as close to the heat as possible, with this method, it is important however that your have a powerful griller, otherwise there is the risk of the griller not being hot enough and causing the brulee to split before the sugar caramelizes.