(Burnt Cream – refers to that crunchy brown candy top created from the caramelized brown sugar)
This is the dessert my sister made for 13 people at my brother-in-law’s birthday party in which I partook. Recipe from Chef Francisco Gutierrez of New York City’s Le Cirque 2000 via Martha Stewart (my sister adoresMartha Stewart and has all of her cookbooks).
· Always use fresh eggs
· It’s easier to separate the egg yolks from the whites if the eggs are chilled first
· For best flavor, use vanilla beans (NOT liquid vanilla flavoring)
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
4 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
¾ cup granulated sugar
7 large egg yolks
· Spread brown sugar in a large pan or baking sheet and let dry uncovered for about 3 hours. When sufficiently dried, the sugar will feel sandy. Pass the dried brown sugar through a sieve to remove any lumps. My sister then stores it in a glass jar.
· Heat oven to 300 degrees F
· In a small pot over medium heat, combine cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla bean and scraped seeds. Heat the mixture, stirring occasionally, until bubbles start to form around the edges. Make sure the cream does not boil. Remove the pot and set aside.
· In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks.
Continue to whisk the yolks while slowly pouring cream mixture into yolks. Whisk until the mixture is smooth, then strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a large measuring cup to remove the vanilla bean pieces and any overcooked eggs.
· Place nine 5-ounce shallow ramekins on a baking pan with 1-inch-high sides. While the recipe instructs the pan to be placed in the oven and then the custard mix to be poured into the ramekins, my sister pours the strained custard mixture into the ramekins and then carefully places the entire pan into the oven. Make sure the ramekins are filled all the way to the top with custard, because shrinkage occurs during baking. Once the pan with the custard-filled ramekins are in the oven, pour enough hot (not boiling) water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekin.
· Bake about 40 minutes, until the custard is set and trembles slightly when shaken.
· Remove the ramekins from the water bath and place on a cooling rack for about 30 minutes. Then chill for 2 hours (they can chill up to 3 days) before serving. The custard will finish setting in the refrigerator.
· Now, you could actually serve the custard as-is. But, if you like that crunchy caramelized sugar coating, then:
· Just before serving, heat the broiler, or – as in my sister’s case – use a kitchen torch – to caramelize about 2 tablespoons of the dried brown sugar sprinkled over the top of each custard. To do it the broiler way, transfer the ramekins to a clean baking sheet and place the baking sheet about 4 inches from the broiler. Broil until the sugar is caramelized – about 40 seconds – then serve immediately.
Thanks to my sister, I now know what freshly-made crème brulee tastes like (and feels like in the mouth) and will use that as my standard for all other crème brulees which I order.