Crème Brulee is the dessert of choice for the father in this house. In honor of his special day, I brought out my favorite recipe from Elegantly Easy Crème Brulee & Other Custard Desserts by Debbie Puente. The book provides a variety of recipes for Crème Brulee that include fruit, liqueurs, chocolate, and carmel, but I usually make the classic version since that’s the way this Dad likes it.
There are only four ingredients required to make Crème Brulee, but be sure to allow plenty of time for all the stirring and simmering required. The book provides two options for making Classic Crème Brulee; the “water bath” method and the “stirred method.” I always choose the stirred method recipe, mostly because I don’t have the right equipment for the water bath. I’ve made the stirred method recipe several times before and while I think I follow each step carefully, I must do something wrong because at the very end of 30 minutes worth of stirring, the custard suddenly curdles. The first time this happened, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Was all my effort a waste? Fortunately, the book contains many tips, including how to salvage curdled custard. Thank goodness! This time was no different. As anticipated, the custard curdled (I think I’m cooking the custard too fast and using lower quality baking equipment). However, I had my blender close at hand, which saved the day. After just a few seconds in the blender, the curdled custard became velvety smooth and poured easily into the ramekins.
After the custard has completely cooled, it’s time for the caramelized topping. I use between 1-2 teaspoons of sugar for each ramekin and torch the sugar until it is glassy in texture and golden in color. For Father’s day I broke out the special flavored caramelizing sugar in raspberry, praline, butter rum and cappuccino. The flavored sugar is more coarse than the standard variety, but still caramelizes well and turns a nice golden color. Each type of sugar tastes just like it’s name, and adds an interesting twist to the dessert. Although the flavors were fun, our Dad still prefered regular sugar with his Classic Crème Brulee.
Happy Father’s Day!
Classic Crème Brulee, Stirred Method
Recipe by Debbie Puente
8 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream (whipping cream)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract or 1 whole vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
¼ cup granulated white sugar (for the caramelized tops)
In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Set aside. Using a double boiler, or a heatproof bowl set over gently simmering water, bringing the cream to a gentle simmer; do not boil. Remove the cream from heat, and slowly pour into the egg mixture. Add vanilla.
Pour mixture into top of double boiler; the water should be simmering, not boiling. Cook, stirring frequently, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and strain into a large, clean bowl. The custard will thicken as it cools. Chill completely, at least 6 hours (preferably overnight).
When ready to serve, fill individual serving containers, such as ramekins, custard cups, coffee cups, or edible serving cups, with the chilled custard. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of sugar over each custard cup and caramelize. For best results, use the small, hand-held torch to melt sugar. Serves 4-6.