Tag Archives: sweet

Crème Brulee

(Burnt Cream – refers to that crunchy brown candy top created from the caramelized brown sugar)

94C7601_Creme Brulee

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).

Notes:

· 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)

Crème Brulee:

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.

94C7249_Vanilla Beans

94C7234_Scraping the Seeds

94C7238_Vanilla Seeds and Scraped Bean

94C7246_Vanilla Seeds and Bean

94C7307_Custard Mix

· In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks.

94C7227_Eggs For Brulee

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.

94C7259_Stirring The Mix Into The Eggs

94C7261_Straining The Mix

· 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.

94C7219_Ramekins

94C7323_Pouring Into Ramekins

94C7269_Ready For The Oven

94C7277_The Water Bath

94C7272_The Water Bath

· Bake about 40 minutes, until the custard is set and trembles slightly when shaken.

94C7341_Baked Brulee

94C7290_Baked Custard

· 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.

94C7594_Carmelizing The Top

94C7845_Torching The Brulee Top

94C7853_Carmelizing The Brulee Top

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Cooking, Dessert, food, Photography

Chocolate-Covered Cherries

During the holidays, my postage stamp-sized mailbox gets crammed with a gazillion mail-order food magazines.  Harry & David, New Braunfels Smokehouse, Chukar Cherries, Hickory Farms, and a couple of others of which I have never heard of (Wine Country Gift Baskets??  I don’t ever remember ordering from this place).  I like leafing through these while eating, of course.   Holidays equal food and eating.  And not just any food.

While driving to work, I’ve been listening to a continuing NPR story From Chompsgiving To Chew Years Holiday Dishes about favorite foods people eat only during the holidays and at no other time.  During those episodes, I wracked my brain trying to think of a favorite food that I only eat during Christmastime and no other time of year.  I have a pretty healthy appetite and generally don’t let a single holiday keep me from eating the same thing all year long.

And then, while in Walgreens picking up a prescription, I passed by a particular candy display…..

Chocolate-covered cherries

But not just any kind of chocolate-covered cherries.  They have to be the Queen Anne-brand chocolate covered cherries, and they have to be milk chocolate; not dark chocolate or burgandy chocolate (whatever the hell that is).  You know the ones I am talking about – a fake-red maraschino cherry floating in a pond of red syrup and encased in a tasty (but definitely not Belgian) milk chocolate covering.  When you bite into the chocolate, the syrup and cherry practically pop out and the super-sweet syrup oozes down your fingers.  Nom nom!

Christmas isn’t Christmas without these candies!  While I may not be able to remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday, I can still remember getting excited because my mother sent me a holiday care package including a box of Queen Anne Chocolate-Covered Cherries while I was in college….27 years ago.  Hell, I just now polished off two of these little chocolate-covered jewels while typing this post (having to stop periodically to lick my fingers and then wipe them off with a Kleenex).

That walk past the display in Walgreens prompted me to post a little write-up about these things.  A good excuse to take out my camera and do a little photography .  The photos you see here were actually taken with my point & shoot Canon Powershot G11, which I carry at all times in my purse.  It does a pretty decent job macro-wise and I use it mainly for photographing things I want to sell on eBay and to have for those “just in case” moments.  I try to never be without a camera, be it my iPhone, my SLRs, or this point & shoot.

So, what do you all eat only during the holidays?  Any holiday.  Do you buy it ready-made or make it yourself?  You can search on www.NPR.org and get the recipes about which they talk on that ongoing radio news article.  Some of them sound tasty, and others sound so odd that they are probably really tasty.

Ok, time for just one more chocolate-covered cherry.  Maybe with a little coffee….or milk…..or beer (hey, it’s Friday and I’m home from work).

2 Comments

Filed under food, Holidays