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.
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