Creme Brulee: Showstopper

Creme Brûlée Creme Brûlée.  A rich and creamy, lightly sweetened custard topped with toasted sugar so crunchy you have to ‘crack’ it to eat it.  *sigh*  If you have never eaten this, I have no words to describe it that would do it justice.  If you have had it, you are swooning off your chair right now.  Yeah.  It is that good.  And…*blushing*…I don’t want to brag….but…well…mine is the best.

I wish I could say I was kidding, but I’m not.  I have had a LOT of creme brûlée at a LOT of different places all over the country (in the name of research and self improvement, of course…) and I have yet to eat one I like more than mine.  I have been so disappointed with other versions that some years ago, my husband convinced me to stop ordering it and instead, just make it more often at home.  Umm, OK!

Truthfully, I don’t make it all that much; a few times a year is all.  Mainly for the obvious reasons.  It isn’t exactly health food.  But every once in awhile, I come across a recipe-recently, it was a batch of cookies-that calls for 4 egg whites.  And then, a little bell goes off in my head-DING!  Creme Brûlée needs 4 egg yolks…

And then I make this and all is right with the world!
Creme Brûlée Please do not be intimidated!  This is so much easier than you might think!  Years ago, when my husband I were first married, I came across a recipe for this dessert and was curious.  I had had it only once in a restaurant and, like the rest of the natural world, was hooked.  When I read the process for making it, I was floored.  I said to myself, “Self?!  This is easy!  You can do this!”  So I did.  I made it. I only had large ramekins at the time.  As in, the size of a cereal bowl.  So, not really ramekins, I guess.  More like mini soufflé dishes…Anyway, I made it.  Often.  And I experimented, but always came back to my classic original version.  To be fair, I was serving it to hungry sailors who will eat anything, but even they agreed; plain was the best.  As a result, to this day, I still get comments from our NAVY family about my creme brûlée.

And now, you can too!  Well, not comments from my NAVY family…that would be weird…but from your own family and friends!  It is a great make-ahead dessert!  You HAVE to make it in advance so it is perfect for busy get togethers.  It is gluten-free, already portioned, easy to make, and impressive! A few simple ingredients and you can have a showstopper of a dessert for the holidays, a birthday, anniversary, or a Tuesday.  And if you become locally famous for it and have to eat it over and over and over (bummer), I expect an email of thanks.  I offer a hearty ‘Your Welcome!’ to your tastebuds in advance.
Creme Brûlée Creme Brûlée Above: Cold, naked custards, ready for a burnt sugar hat!  Our blow torch is just outside of the frame.

Below: Pure, utter, scrumptiousness.
Creme Brûlée One Year Ago: Coconut Bon Bons, Peanut Butter Bon Bons, Roasted Shrimp CocktailSuper Easy Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies, Speedy BBQ Chicken Sandwiches W/Coleslaw
Two Years Ago: Honey Buns, Puppy Chow, Chewy Ginger Cookies

Classic Creme Brûlée 
Ramekins are unfortunately necessary to make this.  You can find them here and use them for a myriad of other things.  Bake dip in them, use them to serve ice cream, snacks, all kinds of stuff.  Most are freezer, oven, microwave, and dishwasher safe.

2 c heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp good vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and vanilla together.  Set aside.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, gently heat the cream and sugar together over medium low heat until the mixture is just starting to steam and the sugar is melted.  While whisking the yolks, slowly pour in the cream mixture, whisking all the while and going slow so as not to curdle the yolks. Pour the whole mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl or vessel easy to pour from.  The sieve will get any bits of yolk and ensure a super creamy custard.  Place four (5-6 oz) ramekins in a large glass dish.  Portion the custard out between them-carefully!  Pour hot tap water in the pan until it comes halfway up the ramekins.  The water bath cooks the custard gently so you have a creamy, wonderful dessert-not sweet scrambled eggs.  Blegh.  Bake in a 300 degree oven, for 25 minutes or until the custards are just set.  The centers should wiggle a bit but not ripple.  Remove custard dishes from water and set on the counter to cool.  Chill until very cold-a good 3 hours or overnight.  When ready to serve, sprinkle a thin layer of sugar (1 tsp or so) over the custards and slowly and VERY CAREFULLY melt the sugar until toasted and brown using a blow torch.  Alternatively, you can place all the custards on a sheet pan and quickly do this under the broiler. You don’t want to heat the custards, just melt the sugar.  Serve immediately.

Note: If you object to using fire, and just don’t want to mess with it, the custards can be eaten just as they are with a bit of whipped cream.  While technically, it won’t be creme brûlée, it would still be crazy good.  Also, if your ramekins are smaller or larger, just adjust the cooking time accordingly.  They will still turn out just fine!