4.5. Classic Crème Brûlée

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4.5 Classic Crème Brûlée

Crème brûlée or crème brulée (/ˌkrɛm bruːˈleɪ/; French pronunciation: [kʁɛm bʁy.le]), also known as burnt cream or Trinity cream, and virtually identical to the original crema catalana, is a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a layer of hardened caramelized sugar. It is normally served slightly chilled; the heat from the caramelizing process tends to warm the top of the custard, while leaving the center cool. The custard base is traditionally flavored with vanilla in French cuisine, but can have other flavorings. It is sometimes garnished with fruit.

Legend holds that this subtly flavored, delicate custard, whose name translates literally as burned cream, originated at the University of Cambridge, in England. Indeed, nearly every individual college, whether it is Christ's College, Trinity College (where the hardened sugar cover is broken with the aid of a perfectly weighted sterling silver hammer), or King's College, lays clam to having invented it. The silken vanilla-scented custard is covered with a layer of sugar, which becomes a brittle sheet of caramel. Burning the sugar evenly can be a challenge the first time out, and though you can accomplish it with a broiler, we find that a small blowtorch specifically designed for kitchen use works best. We prefer turbinado sugar, a slightly refined sugar, for the topping, because it melts easily and forms a crisp, easily shattered cover.



3 cups heavy cream

1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 large egg yolks

1/3 cup granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

3 tablespoons turbinado sugar, such as Sugar in the Raw

Step 1

Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 325°F.

Step 2

Pour cream into a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Using tip of a knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean, if using, into cream and add pod (if using vanilla extract, do not add it yet). Heat cream over moderate heat until hot but not boiling; remove from heat and discard pod.

Step 3

Whisk together yolks, granulated sugar, and salt in a medium bowl until well combined. Add hot cream in a slow stream, whisking constantly until combined. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and whisk in vanilla extract, if using. Ladle custard into ramekins.

Step 4

Arrange ramekins in a roasting pan and add enough boiling water to pan to reach halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake until custards are just set, 25 to 30 minutes. With tongs, transfer custards to a rack to cool, then refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 4 hours.

Step 5

Just before serving, sprinkle turbinado sugar evenly over custards. Move blowtorch flame evenly back and forth close to sugar until sugar is caramelized. Let stand until sugar is hardened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Step 6

Stir 1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder into the hot cream and proceed as directed.

See also:

"Creme Brulee History and Recipe". LoveToKnow. Archived from the original on 17 October 2020. Retrieved 17 October 2020

Grigson, Jane (1 January 1985).Jane Grigson's British Cookery. Atheneum. ISBN 9780689115240. Archived from the original on 30 September 2020. Retrieved 27 September 2016.

Orange-Scented Crème Brûlée
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