It’s easy to carry a torch for this smooth and crunchy dessert
Crème brûlée might have a crusty exterior, but once we get past that we find a sweet and soft soul that makes us just want to eat it up.
This is a dessert that most people wait to order at a nice restaurant on a special night out. That’s a mistake, because this is an easy dessert to make at home; just a few ingredients and some time is all you need. You’ll also need one specialty piece of equipment — a torch for caramelizing the sugar topping.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes, allow 2 hours for refrigeration
9 egg yolks
¾ cup superfine sugar plus
6 tablespoons for topping
1 quart heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
Preheat oven to 325 F. In a large bowl, cream together egg yolks and sugar with a whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and thick.
Pour cream into medium saucepan over low heat. Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean in half, scrape out the seeds and add them to the saucepan.
Bring cream to a brief simmer, do not boil or it will overflow. Remove from heat, strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove most of the seeds, and temper the yolks by gradually whisking the hot vanilla cream into yolk and sugar mixture. Do not add hot cream too quickly or the eggs will cook.
Divide custard between 6 (6-ounce) ramekins, about ¾ full. Place ramekins in a shallow roasting pan and fill pan with enough water to come halfway up the side of the ramekins. Bake until barely set around the edges, about 40 minutes. You might want to cover loosely with foil to prevent browning. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar on top of each chilled custard. Hold a kitchen torch 2 inches above surface to brown the sugar and form a crust.
Variations: Before dividing into ramekins, add 3 ounces of shaved chocolate for chocolate Crème Brûlée; add 4 slices of crystallized ginger for Ginger Crème Brûlée; add 3 slices of orange peel for Orange Crème Brûlée. Let steep 20 minutes to infuse the flavor. Strain out the ginger and orange peel before baking.