Crème Brûlée – So simple, so rich, and always praised!

This is the second recipe from the prom dinner I made for my son Gregory and his friends.

The English, Spanish, and French all take credit for the creation of this wonderful dessert. Thankfully for us the French translation of the English name for this dessert is the one that became common place. Burnt cream just doesn’t have the same appeal. The Spanish name for this is crema catalana.

Ingredients

8 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup granulated white sugar (for the caramelized tops)

Directions

Preheat oven to 300ºF. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Add cream and vanilla, and continue to whisk until well blended.
Divide mixture among 4 to 6 4.5 inch, flat ramekins. Place ramekins in a large pan and then create a water bath by filling the pan with hot water until the water comes up to just below the top of the ramekin. Bake until set around the edges, but still loose in the center, about 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and leave in the water bath until cooled. Remove cups from water bath and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. When ready to serve, sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of sugar over each custard. For best results, use a small, hand-held torch to melt sugar. If you don’t have a torch, place under the broiler until sugar melts. Re-chill custards for a few minutes before serving.

Here are a few other tips to help make the best crème brûlée:

Eggs – This is one recipe where the volume of eggs makes some difference. Use large grade A. Make sure they are well chilled before separating. Chilled eggs are easier to separate as the yolks will be firmer.

Cream – Use only heavy whipping cream.

Vanilla extract – Use real vanilla extract and not imitation. If you can, use a Madagascar Bourbon extract. It should be available in most specialty gourmet shops.

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