Classic French Creme Brulee Recipe




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Creme brulee is simply an egg custard recipe with a hard, toffee crust, but for everyone who has experienced this classic dessert at its best, creme brulee is a symphony of sweet, creamy perfection. Creme brulee may be a dessert you only order in restaurants, but, it shouldn't be. It is a relatively easy preparation.


Classic creme brulee.Classic French Creme Brulee

The earliest recorded creme brulee recipe is from a french cookbook, "Le Cuisinier Royal Et Bourgeois" by, Fran├žois Massialot, in 1691.  These French versions of the dessert used a red hot iron to instantly caramelize the sugar on top.

Similar desserts in other cultures include crema catalana, in Spain and flan in Mexico. Though traditional flan recipes caramelize the sugar in a saucepan and coat the bottom of the ramekin, before the custard is added and baked.

This creme brulee recipe is a great example of simple, classical cooking. It is memorable, delicate and yet simple to prepare.

Creme brulee ingredients: egg yolks, cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt.

Ingredients for my creme brulee recipe: egg yolks, heavy cream, sugar, bourbon vanilla, and kosher salt.


Tempering egg yolk mixture with the cream mixture.

In a heatproof bowl, combine the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Temper the egg mixture by very slowly pouring the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture, while whisking to thoroughly combine.


Straining the creme brulee base through a chinois.

Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or chinois into a clean bowl or measuring cup.


Creme brulee in remekins in a roasting pan. Ready for the oven.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully fill it three quarters full with the custard.


Creme brulee hot out of the oven.

When they are done they should look like this.


Caramelizing a creme brulee with a torch.

Spread a thin layer of granulated sugar over the top of the custard. Use a propane torch for a few seconds, until the sugar melts, caramelizes and forms a glassy shell.

This creme brulee recipe produces a velvety creme brulee that is a symphony of sweet creamy perfection.



My Creme Brulee Recipe - Sweet Creamy Perfection.


  • Yield: 5 servings
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: Varies, but between 20 and 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 473 ml / 2 cups heavy cream
  • 85 grams / 3 ounces sugar, divided plus more for serving
  • pinch salt
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 5 yolks

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. In a pot over medium heat, bring the cream, vanilla bean or vanilla, salt, and half the sugar to a low boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and let stand. If you're using vanilla bean split the bean in half, lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the cream and toss the pod in as well.
  3. In a heatproof bowl, combine the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. When you combine the sugar and egg yolk you need to start whisking immediately and continue whisking until the sugar is completely dissolved or the sugar will cook the yolk.
  4. Temper the egg mixture by very slowly pouring the cream mixture into the egg mixture, while whisking to thoroughly combine.
  5. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or chinois into a clean bowl or measuring cup. Skim the foam from the surface.
  6. Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully fill it three quarters full with the custard.
  7. Fill the baking pan with hot  water to the level of the custard. Then cover it with foil. When transferring to the oven be careful not to tip or make sudden moves otherwise you'll end up with water in your creme brulees.
  8. Bake until the centers are just set, approximately 20 to 40 minutes. Start checking the custards after 20 minutes.
  9. When the custard is set carefully remove the pan from the oven, remove the foil, and take the ramekins out of the water bath. If you leave them to cool in the water they will overcook.
  10. When the baked custard has cooled to room temperature, chill it in the refrigerator. Once the custards are thoroughly chilled to refrigerator temperature wrap individual custards with plastic wrap.

To Serve

  1. Spread a thin layer of granulated sugar over the top of the custard. Put the ramekin under a broiler (place the rack at its setting closest to the flame), or use a propane torch for a few seconds, until the sugar melts, caramelizes and forms a glassy shell.

Notes

  1. Traditional creme brulee dishes, or ramekins, are oval or round dishes about an inch in height with a 5-inch diameter. I've never liked the traditional dish because I want a higher ratio of custard to burnt sugar. So, I use a 6 ounce round ramekin that is 2 inches high.
  2. When you are adding water to the baking pan the easiest way to do it is to have your hot water ready in a pourable pot, pan, or kettle. Place the baking pan on top of the range, fill the pan about a quarter of the way. Lay the foil on top and seal three edges. Fold the remaining edge back so you can add more water. Open the oven, slide out the rack, and place the pan on the rack. Add the rest of the water and seal the foil over the remaining edge. Gently and carefully slide the rack back into the oven.
  3. Custards are very subtle in flavor and will easily pick up odors from the fridge if left uncovered.
  4. Proper creme brulee must have a coating of burnt sugar. If you do not have a kitchen torch, I highly recommend buying one. It is far easier to use than the alternative method of caramelizing under a broiler. However, you can achieve essentially the same effect by caramelizing under your broiler. Position the rack to its closest height and arrange the sugar coated ramekins directly under the broiler flame. If you choose this method keep an eye on the custard's surface while it is caramelizing.
  5. I don't use a creme brulee torch, nor do I know any professional chefs that do. We go to a hardware store and buy a propane torch for brass pipe. Their cheaper by at least half and the tank is much larger. For example my creme brulee torch cost me 15.00 dollars at Home Depot. The cheapest brulee torch on Amazon was 25.00 dollars. Most were closer to 40.00 dollars. You do the math.

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