As I have already told you, Valentine's Day was almost entirely planned for us by my three year old daughter. After telling you that, I felt I really should show you some pictures of the adorable table settings she arranged before digging in to the sweet stuff!
Isn't she adorable??
And as an added bonus, you can see my special dinner. Pork loin rolled in herbs and wrapped in bacon....Thank you dear cousin!!
Don't blink, its the last time you'll see me make something so decadent (or good!) cooking-wise. . . As they say, you are either a cook or a baker. And as you can probably guess, I am the latter. :)
Ok, now onto the sweet stuff. My husband's favorite dessert is creme brulee. He was introduced to it merely 2 years ago and I think he's been begging me since then to try making it. I figured, what better time to try it then Valentine's Day? So I went to Bed Bath and Beyond and picked up their Creme Brulee set, looked up an online recipe, and went to town!
To begin you take 8 egg yolks and beat them, then add 1/2 C of sugar and mix them until they are well combined.
Then take 2 Cups of heavy cream and heat it to right below simmering. Once heated, add 1/4 Cup of the cream, (1 tablespoon at a time) to the egg mix. You don't want to heat the eggs up too quickly as they will cook prematurely. This process is referred to as "tempering".
Once you temper in 1/4 cup of cream, you can add the remaining cream to the eggs. You then add the 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla to the mixture.
Then strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, before pouring it into the ramekins. This creates a really smooth custard.
Now boil about 4 cups of water. You'll need that in a minute. While you're at it, preheat the oven to 250. There, I'll stop being demanding now.
Now to pour the mixture into the ramekins. I started by filling the 4 - 3oz ramekins first since that is what came with the kit. However, I was very glad I had picked up two much larger 8oz ramekins for overflow, since there was plenty of it. I would suggest getting more of the 3oz ramekins rather than having overflow into larger ramekins. The end result of the large ones seems to be a little too much custard.
Next place the ramekins in a deeper 9x13 pan, and pour in the boiling water around them until the water rests half-way up the side of the ramekin.
Then insert them into the oven, and bake for about 50 minutes. After 50 minutes, take rubber-tipped tongs and remove one of the ramekins, slightly shaking it. If the inner portion of the custard still jiggles while the outside is firm, they are done. If they do not jiggle at all, but are firm all the way through, they are slightly overdone but don't worry, they are still delicious!! If they are not quite done, cook them at 10 minute intervals until they are finished.
Remove them from the oven, and put them on a wire cookie rack to cool. Allow them to cool to room temperature before placing them in the refrigerator.
At this point, the recipe states that you should leave the custard in the refrigerator overnight. Since I completely missed that when I read the instructions the first time and wanted them done more quickly, I took the two we were going to eat that evening and refrigerated them for two hours. I left the remaining brulees to cool overnight with the intention of trying them the following day to see if the time elapsed made any difference.
In the meantime, lets continue on with the brulees which were only refrigerated for only two hours. Remove the two brulees from the refrigerator and cover the tops with approximately 1 tsp of regular refined white sugar. Light your torch, and hold it so the flame is almost parallel to the top of the dessert, then angle it slightly towards the sugary top and allow the sugar to begin to caramelize. How fast/slow the sugar melts and begins to look like caramel is dependent upon how close the flame is, and how fast you move the flame over the sugar. After the first one, you sort of get a feel for it.
And wha-la! Beautiful and impressive desserts!
They were delicious!
The following evening, I removed one of the remaining brulees from the refrigerator (an 8 oz version) and decided to try a different sugar on the top. I added approximately 1 tablespoon of turbinado sugar, gently spreading it evenly over the top of the custard, and grabbed my blow torch.
I know, I know, its a culinary torch . . . but blow torch sounds soo much cooler.
I probably should have mentioned this earlier but I am somewhat of a pyro. Turning on the torch brought back memories of flaming marshmallows and campfires, burning sticks while it dwindled . . . and I had to snap myself out of my fiery trance and return to the task at hand.
Forgive the blurry picture, but I have to say its hard to take a picture with one hand and torch evenly with the other. I was not as impressed with the turbinado sugar as far as taste, but I have to admit it caramelized much more quickly than the refined white sugar. The custard taste was pretty much the same as the night before, so I would say its probably safe to only refrigerate the custard for two hours rather than overnight. At least for this recipe.
All in all, this was by far not the most delicious creme brulee I had tasted, but a very good home equivalent. I have a few ideas for remedying that in the future but for now, I will say if you like the dessert, this is an easy home equivalent!
Recipe again courtesy of Michael Chu.
Pour the sugar into the egg yolks.
Beat the yolks and sugar until smooth.
Heat the heavy cream until almost simmering (you can bring to a simmer and let it cool a minute).
Add heavy cream to the egg yolks one tablespoon at a time while stirring vigorously until 1/4 cup of the heavy cream has been added.
Add the remaining cream to the mixture.
Add in 1/2 tsp of vanilla and stir.
Pour custard through a fine mesh sieve.
Pour the strained mixture into 8 -10 3-oz ramekins.
Place the ramekins in a baking pan. Pour boiling water into the pan (be careful not to get water into the ramekins), so that the water level is halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Place in an oven preheated to 250°F for about one hour.
After 50 minutes, check to see if the custards are done. We want them to be set on the outside edge, but jiggly (like jello) at the center. The easiest way to do this is to take a pair of tongs with food grade rubber bands wrapped around the ends to help grip the ramekins. Pick up a ramekin and shake to see if the centers jiggle. If only the center jiggles a little, it's done. If the whole thing is set, remove immediately - it'll be a little over done, but still delicious. If it's not done, just put it back in the water bath and check again in ten minutes.
nce the custards are done, let them cool on a cooling rack to room temperature.
Refrigerate custards for two hours.
Remove the custard and spread 1 tsp of sugar over each custard.
Light your torch, and hold it so the flame is almost parallel to the top of the dessert, then angle it slightly towards the sugary top and allow the sugar to caramelize.
Degree of Difficulty: Moderately difficult
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Inactive Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Serving size: 1/10 of a recipe (1.8 ounces).
Percent daily values based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.