Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Crème Brûlée (TWD)


This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake: Crème Brûlée. Crème brûlée - meaning "burnt cream" in French - is a simple dessert. It's a creamy baked custard topped with a sweet, crackly, caramelized sugar topping.


I love crème brûlée. It used to be one of my favorite desserts to order when dining out - until I realized how simple it is to make. My favorite part is the caramelized sugar on top - so when I first learned how to make this at home, I was thrilled because I could make the topping as thick as I wanted (the restaurants always make it too thin, in my opinion).



Crème brûlée is the perfect dessert to serve to dinner guests. It's simple to make, can be prepared ahead of time, and will impress most people because they only enjoy it at restaurants. The ingredient list is also short and sweet: cream, milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla.


My caramelized sugar topping didn't turn out quite as lovely as the one depicted in Dorie's book, despite the fact that I used a crème brûlée torch. I'm not sure if that was because (a) I used brown sugar instead of white, (b) I didn't sift my sugar as directed in the recipe, or (c) I'm just not that talented ;) If you don't have a torch, you can always use your oven broiler to caramelize the sugar (I even used my toaster oven broiler before I acquired the torch) - but just be sure to keep a close eye on it because it goes from sweet and caramelized to bitter and burnt in just a few seconds!


My favorite type of crème brûlée is chocolate, but I wanted to try Dorie's basic vanilla crème brûlée recipe unaltered first, before playing around with it - in order to have a good basis of comparison. I found Dorie's recipe to be delightfully creamy without being too heavy. My favorite recipe contains four egg yolks, so it's heavier and more dense. I'm not sure that I prefer one over the other per se; they're just different and I think it depends on what you're in the mood for :) I also found the flavor of the vanilla in this to be quite strong - perhaps too strong - so I would consider decreasing the vanilla extract to one teaspoon the next time I make it. (Though my husband thought the vanilla flavor was just right.)


Thanks, Mari, for choosing this week's recipe. I loved it. If you would like the recipe, you can find it here. If you're a chocolate lover and have never tried chocolate crème brûlée, you have to try this other recipe. Make sure you visit the TWD Blog Roll to see how everyone else enjoyed this elegant dessert.

*A few notes about this recipe:
- Dorie does not use a water bath for this recipe; instead she uses a very low baking temperature (200F).
- You don't need to strain the mixture into the ramekins as long as you temper the eggs appropriately. Just add the hot liquid a tablespoon at a time until you've added 1/4 of it and you shouldn't have any problems. The straining will also help with some of the bubbles, but the caramelized sugar layer will hide any bubbles on top of your custard.
- Next time, I will add 1-1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract instead of 2 teaspoons.
- If you don't have whole milk on hand, you can use the other recipe I posted instead.
- Although I used shallow 4 ounce crème brûlée ramekins, I only got four servings from this recipe, instead of six.
- If you have the smaller, deeper ramekins like these, you'll have to increase your baking time. I think other TWD bakers noted that it took approximately 90-100 minutes to completely set.
- For more recipe tips, click here.

51 comments:

  1. This looks perfect - beautiful photos!

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  2. oh, your custard looks nearly sinful...i want some. right. now.

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  3. Wow that brulee looks so creamy delicious and that topping i am sure it maade a cracking noise when you hit with the spoon.
    DELICIOUS. droll drool

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  4. Your brulee looks gorgeous! Glad you enjoyed it! I am going to have to break down and buy the torch so I can make this soon.

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  5. Seeing all these beautiful Creme Brulees all over the blog world today is making me hungry!

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  6. Glad it worked out so well for you...it looks great! Maybe I should try your other recipe and see if I can redeem creme brulee in my mind. Good job!

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  7. Wow! I am super impressed! I have never braved creme brulee at home. I'm glad to know it's actually easy. I will have to try. Yours turned out beautifully!

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  8. I feel like I'm coming here pretty often these days... being attracted by beautiful and tasty creations! Hopefuly you're not tired of my blabbing, because I see in my crystal ball, many more visits in the future!
    WOW! WOW! WOW!

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  9. What amazing photos, wow! You really make creme brulee beautiful! I'm glad you had fun with this TWD, it's always nice to try a new recipe of a favorite dish and compare notes.

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  10. I love creme brulee, specifically that wonderfully yummy, crackly top! This dessert is a prime example of how wonderful contrasting textures can be when paired together. I digress, yours looks wonderful. I love the shot of you scooping up a spoonful. I want some!
    ~ingrid

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  11. Nice job! I love the picture of the ramekin set on the recipe page - great perspective :) My brulee didn't brown evenly either and I tried both caster sugar and regular granulated sugar. Go figure. But they still taste great :)

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  12. This looks delicious. Perfect for my morning coffee!

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  13. Your pictures are gorgeous! Great job!

    On the sugar tip, I tried both raw and extra fine white sugar, and the latter won out.

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  14. Chocolate creme brulee? That sounds wonderful. Good idea to try this unaltered first though, and I'm glad your husband liked it. The bruleed top looks perfect to me.

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  15. I think that your sugar crust was quite lovely! And that last picture with the spoon is beautiful! I sat this week out, but when I make this I will definitely be using your tips--thanks!

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  16. Looks positively lovely to me!!! Nice work, as always :0)

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  17. I agree with you 100% about making my sugar layer thicker! Restaurants are so skimpy on the sugar layer and its the best part IMO. HAHA. Love the picture of your dish on the book. Great job!
    Clara @ iheartfood4thought

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  18. Oh...we were supposed to sift the sugar..

    pththththth I didn't even do that.


    I am in ramekin envy.

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  19. I love creme brulee. This was easy to make and was enjoyed in my house by me! Chocolate creme brulee is to die for!

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  20. It looks amazing! You're so right about how simple but impressive it is!

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  21. Looks delicious...One day I WILL make this!!

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  22. I'm there with you...I love a thick caramelized sugar crust on a brulee! Beautiful job...and that chocolate brulee recipe is on my must try list! :)

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  23. Her recipe was creamy, but I think I prefer a sturdier brulee. Maybe I didn't bake mine long enough or maybe 1/5th-ing the recipe messed up the proportions. I actually like a stronger egg taste. Even though you didn't think your topping was nice enough, I think it looks amazing! The toaster oven is really helpful when it comes to broiling without over doing it.

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  24. This looks wonderful! It's always nice when a dessert looks impressive but is actually easy! I haven't tried chocolate creme brulee, but I think I'll have to soon!

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  25. Oh! Very nice. Great job. They look delish!

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  26. Mmmm, those spoon-in-the-creme-brulee look fantastic! I hadn't thought about it but you're right, you can get whatever thickness of sugar on top you want.

    Nice work!

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  27. I beg to differ from you: your caramelization is every bit as lovely as Dorie's!

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  28. i think your brulee job looks darn good!

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  29. Your brulee looks delicious. And I only got 4 servings too, and I used typical brulee ramekins. Who knows? If I do this again I think I'll make chocolate creme brulee, because it sounds fab.

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  30. Great job! With this creme brulee you can easily compete against any restaurant ;-)

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  31. Beautiful brulee and beautiful photography !

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  32. perfection. oozy, creamy perfection. :)

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  33. Your topping looks great!!! I'm glad you and your husband enjoyed it.

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  34. yum, great job!! it looks delicious. i am so with you on the thick crust:) i will have to check out the other recipe you linked to.

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  35. Love your photos! Your brulee looks perfecto!

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  36. i've never had cream brulee before, but i think i need to try this!! it looks so good!

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  37. Yumm, your brulee looks amazing. I wish for a spoon through the web. hehe Just wanted to say your photos are beautiful and inviting. Going back to read now. : )

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  38. A beautiful Creme Brulee! I am so tempted by the special torch but it would literally have to be foolproof for me.

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  39. Your pics look so good, making me wish I had more creme brulee for lunch today!

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  40. I love your Brulee! I thought your topping looked fine! I just made next TWD and let me tell you that Brownie cake is wonderful!

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  41. i think your photos are really great. i normally use the barefoot contessa creme brulee recipe, which does use a water bath, and i'll probably use that in the future. i did use dorie's suggestion of raspberries, i just haven't posted yet. and my camera is dying so i just have "before" photos. :)

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  42. Your creme brulees have the per-fect texture!!
    Re-nails in the kitchen: it comes and goes...usually they are very short but for some reason they are giving me a very nice break so I am riding along until I cut one slicing fruit!!

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  43. Great looking brulee! You emailed me awhile back regarding my banner. I have since changed it. Here is the link-it's really quite easy to do.
    blogbanner

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  44. Your topping looks perfect and those photos of the creamy custard in the spoon are just beautiful!

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  45. Your Crème Brûlée looks delicious!! I made mine with star anise and white chocolate.

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  46. What a gorgeous brulee. I love your handy tips at the end.

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  47. That creme brulee looks so creamy and good! I am going to have to try a chocolate creme brulee!

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  48. Your lacking sugar layer is because you used brown sugar. Using regular or raw sugar works better because they have lower moisture contents. The torch was burning off moisture before caramelizing the sugar.

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