Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee

With its creamy velvety  texture and crisp caramel topping, crème brulee ranks high in my book of desserts. If it’s on the dessert menu of a restaurant, I will always order it, even if I am full. For my birthday last year, a very dear friend of mine gave me a crème brulee set, which has a torch and 4 dishes. I was thrilled and very much excited to use it to make crème brulee at home. However, it didn’t happen until I had a bad crème brulee experience at a restaurant. We went for dinner last week at The Catch Kitchen & Bar in Steveston Richmond during the Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2017.  The food and service was great, but the earl grey crème brulee I ordered after dinner was not. The waiter told me that it was not gluten free. I was a little surprised. As far as I know, Crème brulee is made with only four ingredients, cream, eggs, sugar and flavoring.  Where does the gluten enter here? Anyways, I ordered one for my husband. The appearance was exactly like crème brulee with a  perfect caramelized top. But being the curious person, I had to taste test. After tasting, it was clear the lusious richness of egg yolks was missing in this crème brulee and seemed to be thickened with all-purpose flour. Not sure if that was their twist on a good dessert, but it was terrible. My husband ate it anyway.

 

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee

it’s been snowing in Vancouver since Friday

 

I thought I had waited too long and decided it was time to take the crème brulee set out and do a trial test for Valentine’s day. And guess what? Amazingly enough I made the perfect crème brulee on the first try! Breaking through the crisp caramelized top into a velvety interior was a pure bliss. It was one of the easiest desserts I’ve ever made and using the torch was fun! I don’t know why I never thought of making it earlier.

 

Creme brulee with vanilla bean

 

The preparation has two part procedure, first the custard is prepared then the top is caramelized with a butane torch. It is usually served in individual ramekins. Great thing about creme brulee is that the custard is made ahead and put in the fridge. There’s no fancy plating necessary. Simply take them out of the fridge, dust them with sugar and brulee the top before serving. In fact, you can do this in front of your guests and serve or let them do it themselves. It’s truly spectacular.

To make this recipe I went through three of my saved websites to learn the basics and tricks. You can see them here, here, and here. I mixed and matched their recipes and came up with a straightforward recipe of my own.

Glazing the top

 

Glazing

 

Creme brulee is not difficult to make just read the recipe and notes a few times and organize everything before beginning. To start, carefully separate the egg yolks from egg whites. Freeze the egg whites, they can be used for all sorts of things such as Sicilian cookie, souffle, omelette or frittata. Next, Preheat your oven to 300°F and boil a pot or kettle of water, that way you can focus on the actual preparation. Arrange 4 ramekins in a baking pan because crème brulee is cooked in water bath. The purpose of water bath is to provide a low even temperature for the custards to cook evenly and set properly.

In a saucepan over medium low flame, heat cream until just bubbly. The traditional way of flavoring a creme brulee is vanilla but one can infuse with a variety of flavors. I used vanilla bean. You could use vanilla extract but the natural flavor of the vanilla bean really adds to the dish. and, it is not hard to find vanilla bean in the spice rack of your grocery store. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and cut it into two then add it to the cream (this way the seeds and pod both go in the cream). While the cream is heating up, whisk egg yolks in a bowl until thick and pale. Recipes would say to add sugar in eggs or cream but I don’t think you really need extra sugar. There is enough sugar on top which you are going to be eating and enjoying with each bite.

Once the cream comes to a gentle boil, add a small amount to the eggs,  stirring continually. This is called tempering. By doing this, you are bringing the temperature of the egg yolks up instead of cooking the egg yolks and turning it into scrambled eggs. Continue to whisk as you slowly add the rest of the cream.  Strain the custard mixture into a pitcher or a big measuring cup and then pour into the  ramekins, filling them only about three-quarters full. Once this is done, the whole thing takes a trip to the oven and the baking pan is filled with water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the custard for approximately 20 to 35 minutes, this will depend on the size of the ramekins that you are using. I used 13 cm x 8cm oval ramekins.

 

Whisk, strain, temper

 

After about 25 minutes check to see if the custards are done.  Reach into the oven with tongs and give one of the ramekins a gentle shake. The custard should set on the outside edge, but jiggly at the center. If it is too liquidy bake for few minutes and check again. Remove the custard from the water bath and place onto a cooling rack. If any of the custards still seem slightly underdone, leave them in the water bath for another minute or so out of the oven.  They will continue to cook a bit in the hot water. Let it cool for an hour then refrigerate for 4-6 hours but ideally overnight.

Next, comes the fun part of getting that crisp, golden brown crust over the top of each custard. I am using cook’s blow torch. If you do not have a torch feel free to experiment with your oven broiler. Let sit the custard at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle the top with a thin layer of sugar. For a 5″ size ramekin I used  1 1/2 tsp of turbinado sugar. You could use whatever sugar you have. I used regular white sugar on one to see the difference. White sugar melts faster. Any small grain sugar will dissolve quickly into a smooth mirror like consistency than large grains. However, I really  liked turbinado,  even though it took a little long to caramelize but it melted into a beautifully crisp, amber top, giving the dish an intense flavor and depth to my unsweetened custard.  The heat from the torch can make the previously set custard soft again so it’s good to give it the second chill for 15 min. or so. I like mine fully set. It should hold its shape when you take a spoonful but be soft and cream-like in the mouth (this is what I learnt from eating in different restaurants).

 

Vanilla Creme Brulee

 

 

If you’re planning a romantic dinner at home on Valentine’s day, why not make this classic vanilla bean crème brulee? It is sensuous, gorgeous and the perfect ending for a special homemade meal 🙂

 

Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Sinfully rich dessert which blends the cool velvet smoothness of custard topped with a crisp, caramelized layer of sugar

Ingredients

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cup (310 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and cut into two
  • 6 tsp turbinado sugar for glazing

Instructions

  1. Place 4 ramekins in a 1 1/2 " high baking pan. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 300 F. Fill a tea kettle or a pot with water, bring to a boil and set aside
  3. Pour the cream in a pan and heat on medium. Add vanilla bean.and bring it to a gentle simmer.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks until thick and slightly pale.
  5. Remove the cream from the heat and slowly add cream into the egg mixture, stirring constantly to temper the yolks.
  6. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve.
  7. Pour the mixture evenly in the prepared ramekins and place into the oven.
  8. Pour hot water, from the tea kettle into the baking pan until the water comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekin.
  9. Bake for 25 -35 minutes or until it barely shivers when shaken. Just keep in mind that different sizes will affect the cooking time.
  10. Cool at room temperature for an hour then refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
  11. Before serving, sprinkle 1 1/2 tsp turbinado sugar on each, using blow torch or oven broiler melt the sugar until it blisters and browns beautifully.
  12. Chill the custard for 15 minutes before serving because the custard can melt under the torch.
http://www.simpleglutenfreekitchen.com/2017/02/vanilla-bean-creme-brulee.html

 

Greek yogurt type creme brulee

If you don’t chill creme brulee after torching it becomes soft like this

 

 

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesdays, CookBlogShare.

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19 Comments

  • comment-avatar
    Shana February 7, 2017 (6:49 am)

    Looks heavenly… and just perfect for Valentines day:)

  • comment-avatar
    Angie@Angie's Recipes February 7, 2017 (7:17 am)

    Looks absolutely heavenly!

  • comment-avatar
    Nicoletta @sugarlovespices February 7, 2017 (8:27 am)

    Yum! Crème brulée and panna cotta were my choice of sorts at every restaurant in Italy, for dessert. You did a great job, here, it looks beautiful, creamy, and with a lovely crusty sugary top!

  • comment-avatar
    Adina February 7, 2017 (10:02 am)

    Creme brulee is one of my favorite desserts too and homemade is best. The first time I made it, I didn’t have a small kitchen torch and used a huge one that my husband had, it was quite dangerous, but it worked. 🙂 My mother-in-law had a shock seeing me with the huge thing and promptly bought me a proper one.

  • comment-avatar
    Dolly February 7, 2017 (7:45 pm)

    I love creme brulee! Thank you, Bal!

  • comment-avatar
    Juliana February 8, 2017 (11:11 am)

    I love creme brulee Balvinder, and have not had for ages…yours look perfect…creamy and smooth…and the crispy and golden layer of sugar.
    I hope you are having a great week 🙂

  • comment-avatar
    marcie February 8, 2017 (11:16 am)

    Creme brulee is one of my husband’s favorite desserts, and this looks perfect!

  • comment-avatar
    Blackswan February 9, 2017 (5:34 am)

    You certainly got me with this yummy dessert, dear! xoxo

  • comment-avatar
    All That I'm Eating February 9, 2017 (8:07 am)

    I love creme brulee but I never make it at home – I really should!

  • comment-avatar
    Monica February 9, 2017 (8:16 am)

    This looks so delicious! I love creme brulee and it is just so tasty and always feels like such a luxurious treat. I’m so glad you got the set and can now make your own at home…I think you’ll have fun making all sorts of flavors if you want – though the classic is pretty perfect. The one issue I’ve had with my creme brulee is by the time I brulee it, the custard is softer than I like…I mix mine with milk and cream to lighten it up and I think I need to go heavier on the cream. : ) Craving this!

  • comment-avatar
    NancyC February 9, 2017 (8:10 pm)

    Creme Brûlée is such a wonderful dessert, but I’ve never made it myself–yours looks so good!

  • comment-avatar
    Helene D'Souza February 14, 2017 (3:43 am)

    I think I should just go and finally get a torch, it loooks so much fun!!! =D I haven’t made creme brulee since college time, I kind of miss this gorgeous dessert, it’s creaminess and the crunchy caramel crackling top layer… Congrats for getting the cream so well on the first try.

  • comment-avatar
    Jenny-apply to face blog February 15, 2017 (10:44 am)

    Looks really fab!Your recipe is so well written too.I have never made this but will be back to use your recipe.I just need the blow torch, been dying to get one! x

    • comment-avatar
      Balvinder February 15, 2017 (1:40 pm)

      Actually, you can try under a broiler. I have done that before in another recipe here.

  • comment-avatar
    Agness of Run Agness Run February 16, 2017 (5:57 am)

    Creme Brûlée is such a lovely dessert idea. This creamy look makes my mouth watering!

  • comment-avatar
    Victoria February 18, 2017 (5:03 am)

    I have never made a creme brulee at home, but I always order it in restaurants if it’s on the menu. I will give this a try! Victoria (The Improving Cook)

    • comment-avatar
      Balvinder February 18, 2017 (11:21 am)

      Thank you Victoria!
      do let me know how you like it if you end up making. People have shared photos on social media (testimonial)when they try my recipes.

  • comment-avatar
    Angela / Only Crumbs Remain February 20, 2017 (6:25 am)

    Oh boy, that looks heavenly! What a shame that the restaurant you were at chose to add a flour to thicken it – very strange way of making them! #CookBlogShare
    Angela x

  • comment-avatar
    Kirsty Hijacked By Twins February 21, 2017 (1:29 pm)

    Ooh creme brûlée and this one looks delicious. I really need to vest in a torch. Thank you for sharing with #CookBlogShare x