Crème Brûlée

This weekend I got the chance to make a dessert I’ve been dying to make for ages–crème brûlée. On Friday I went to my favourite kitchen store in The Hague, DOK. I picked up a small kitchen torch that I’ve been eying for about  a month. The ramekins at DOK were a tad too expensive for me, so I went and found some small square dishes at Xenos. I wanted something a little deeper than the standard ramekin, so that I could have the option of making a larger serving.

I decided to go with Martha Stewart’s recipe, because I was too lazy to wade through everything on allrecipes.com. In any case, those who have made crème brûlée know that it’s a pretty basic recipe which doesn’t really vary too much… maybe an egg yolk less here, 1/3 cup of sugar there… nothing drastic at all. Wanting to do things on the cheap, I substituted vanilla bean for some vanilla extract (good extract, mind you, but I shall try it with the vanilla bean in the future).

This was my first time using a bain marie cooking method. For those who don’t know, it allows the custard to cook evenly in the oven. The instructions said to bake the custard for 30-40 minutes in the oven. After 40 minutes I started freak out. Then I realized: I had put 4 servings of custard into three dishes… of course it was going to take longer. My realization didn’t stop me from watching several videos on Youtube just in case, and watching the oven from the kitchen floor like a hawk. My diligence paid off, because after about 55 minutes, the custard came out looking good.

Now here’s the part where I admit to the stupid mistakes I made:

1. I halved the recipe, but accidentally put in the full amount of sugar.

2. I didn’t read the recipe beforehand, so I didn’t plan my time well, and so I was unable to cool the custard for the necessary amount of time in the fridge. In the end, I ended up alternating the custard back and forth between the freezer and the fridge in order to cool it adequately.

After about 90 minutes, we brûléed the crème and served the dessert. It turned out pretty good. There were no chunks or air bubbles, and the custard had set quite well–though it could’ve done with a longer stay in the fridge. I would say it was otherwise on par with stuff I’ve eaten in France. I look forward to making it again with actual vanilla bean. I think it’s a dessert that will serve me well in the future, simply because it’s one of those desserts that looks impressive, but is actually quite easy to master. I look forward to busting it out at a dinner party sometime.


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