What happens when you mix cream, eggs, sugar and a bit of vanilla? Crème Brûlée! It is so simple and yet makes your guests feel doted on and happy. The little “tap tap” of your spoon on the caramelized sugar, the delicate breaking of it like shards of stained glass, and finally digging into that creamy custard are what crème brûlée is all about.
This recipe was passed on to me years ago when I used to caterer for my friend Diane. It was our go-to recipe: simple, delicious and it never failed! I wish I had written the name of the book it came from, all I have left is an old stained xerox of the recipe titled “Classic Crème Brûlée”.
This past weekend I had to make it for a crowd: 35 crèmes brûlées for an international pot luck dinner. I could not ask for a simpler recipe – within 2 hours I was done (minus the brûlée part). If you too are making it for a crowd, never more than double the recipe in one go – otherwise all of the ingredients might not mix properly.
- 8 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup granulated white sugar for the caramelized tops
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Add cream and vanilla and continue to whisk until well blended.
Divide the mixture among 6 ramequins or custard cups. Place in a water bath (see note) and bake until set around the edges, but still wobbly in the center; about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven and leave in the water bath until cooled. Remove cups from the water bath and chill for at least 2 hours up to 2 days.
When ready to serve, sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of sugar over each custard. For best results, use a small hand-held torch to melt sugar. If you don’t have a torch, place under the broiler until the sugar melts. Re-chill the custards for about 10 minutes before serving. This recipe makes 6 servings
NOTE: to secure the ramequins/custard cups on the sheet pan, wet a dish towel and lay in the sheet pan, making sure none of the fabric hangs over the pan. Place the containers on the towel and once the mixture is in the ramequins, slowly pour hot water in the sheet pan bringing the water level half way to the ramequins. This towel “trick” can be used each time you have to bake small items in a water bath and you don’t want them moving around in the container and spilling their contents.
From my kitchen to yours!
CK, la fille du boucher