Google+ Spices in the Cookie Jar: Creme brûlée


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Creme brûlée

Do you ever have days when you wake up with so much energy and enthusiasm, ready to tackle all the rough balls life throws at you? You have a spring in your step, a smile on your lips and a feeling that the whole universe is conspiring to get you what you want! I am not talking about winning the lottery here :P but small simple things or gestures which makes you happy. Well, I had one of those days last week and I wish all my days were filled with such positive vibe. Sadly things don't always go as planned. Today's recipe is for those blue days, guaranteed to lift up the spirits and put a smile back on your face... :).
Creme brûlée is a French desert which means burnt caramel. Silky smooth custard topped with caramelised sugar baked in the oven, popped into the refrigerator and served chilled. The best part of eating a creme brûlée is cracking the hard caramel shell and indulging in the velvety smooth, creamy & delicious.... yum! and I love using the blowtorch over the sugar :P....

Thickened cream - 600 ml 
Nutmeg - a pinch 
Vanilla pod - 1
Cinnamon - a pinch
Cardamom - 2 bruised  
Egg yolks - 6
Caster sugar - 1/4 to 1/2 cup (depending on your sweet tooth :), I used 1/2 cup)
Demerara sugar as needed 

Preheat the oven to 140°C.
Split the vanilla pods and scrape the seeds out.
Put the cream, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla pods along with seeds in a saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. 
Take off heat and discard the cardamom shells & vanilla pod, cover and set aside.
In another bowl quickly whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar until pale, this will take up to 3-4 mins. 
Pour the hot cream a little at a time over the egg & sugar mixture, continuing to whisk until well combined. 
Strain the mixture and make sure there are no air bubbles in the mixture before pouring it in the ramekins.
Line a deep pan with tea towel and place the ramekins.  
Carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of ramekins. 
Cover the pan loosely with foil.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the custard has just set, but still wobbly  in the center.  
Remove ramekins from the hot water bath, allow them to cool a bit before popping it in the refrigerator. 
Sprinkle the top of each ramekin with demerara sugar.
Caramelise the sugar until golden brown using a kitchen blowtorch or place under a preheated grill, careful not to burn it. 
Put it back in the refrigerator to allow the sugar to set hard.  

The oven temperature may differ depending on the appliance you use, I use a fan forced oven. 
You can swap the vanilla for any flavour you like, lavender is a good choice. 
I used 8 x 100 ml ramekins, if you use bigger ramekins adjust the cooking time accordingly. 
Lining the pan with tea towel helps to reduce direct heat from the metal pan to the ramekins.
The cream custard can be made 1 day ahead and the caramelization can be done 1 hour before serving.    

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