Creme brulee is one of those desserts that I thought was impossibly difficult only to find out that it's actually quite easy! I bought my first creme brulee kit at Bed Bath & Beyond many years ago (I even used a 20% off coupon--whoo hoo!). It came with a mini ramekin set and a small kitchen torch. I still use the torch, but the ramekins are just sitting around in my cabinets for decoration.
This is a fantastic dessert if you're planning a night in. We like making this for Valentine's Day and other special occasions so that we can avoid the crowds during popular holiday meal times. Plus, I don't like paying $8 for a dessert that I can easily make at home for half the price (or less). Call me cheap.
You can save the leftover egg whites and do what I do - use them for a swiss meringue buttercream. It gives you another excuse to make cupcakes! If you don't have a vanilla bean for this recipe, I'm sure you could substitute it and use vanilla extract instead.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk (do not use skim or 2%)
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar plus 6 tablespoons
Heat the heavy cream, milk, and vanilla bean in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.
Place the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof mixing bowl and beat until pale yellow in color and all of the sugar has dissolved.
Temper about 1/2 a cup of the cream mixture into the egg mixture and whisk vigorously to incorporate well. Add the remainder of the cream mixture to the bowl and whisk vigorously to incorporate.
Strain the brulee base through a fine mesh sieve and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Pour the custard into 6 (5-ounce) oval ramekins or gratin dishes, and place the dishes in a sheet pan or roasting pan.
Pour enough hot water into the pan to come up half way on the sides of the ramekins. Place the pan in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 30 minutes, turning the sheet pan around after 15 minutes to ensure even cooking.
To test for doneness, jiggle the pan slightly to see if the custard is set, if so, remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature before placing them in the refrigerator for 2 hours to completely cool.
Once the brulee has cooled, evenly spread 1 tablespoon of sugar over each ramekin and using a blowtorch, caramelize the sugar to form a candy coating. Be sure to keep the blowtorch moving in a circular motion to prevent the sugar from burning. Serve once the sugar has cooled and is hard like candy.