Saturday, January 1, 2011

Guest Post: Chris' Classic Creme Brulee

Happy New Year Everyone!  Well my husband struck again with a surprise in the kitchen.  I told him, I'd like him to be my guest writer since he's becoming a pro at this fabulous dessert.  I hope you enjoy him as much as I do... :-)

It isn’t every day that I get to surprise Noelle with my skills in the kitchen.  In fact, it’s probably only happened on two occasions, both of which involved me making homemade crème brulee.  The first time I attempted the mighty feat was when Noelle was covering a football game – I rode my bike in the freezing cold to the grocery store, picked up a few essential ingredients, and masterfully followed the recipe on the ramekin box… maybe anyone could have done it, but it was quite an accomplishment for a guy who fears baking just about as much as he fears snakes.  Then recently, as Noelle was working, I shocked the wife world again by repeating the feat and even improving upon it.

So, how does one go about making a classic crème brulee?  Simple!  Follow these easy steps and you’ll be on your way to dessert heaven (or print this and hand it to the man in your life to surprise you with some day – if I can do it, he can do it!).  First, the list of ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons (TBSP) sugar
2 large eggs
½ Teaspoon (TSP) pure vanilla extract

Note: this recipe fills 3 oz each in 4 ramekins, which is smaller than the average/restaurant size ramekin.  So if you're looking for more, you may want to double recipe and adjust cook time.  But for such a rich dessert, it's the perfect amount to enjoy but not over indulge... at least that's what Noelle says.

Start by preparing a few things ahead of time.  Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and turn on two burners, one to medium and one to high heat.  Put water in a standard pot, put it on the high burner, and bring it to a boil.  For the medium burner, get a small-ish sauce pan and get it heated up.  Grab some heavy cream (heavy whipping cream will work as well) and fill 1 cup.  Separate the yoke from the white of two different eggs.  Not sure how?  Neither was I!  This video is a quick and easy explanation – plus it’s by a French guy so you know he’s good.

After getting the egg yolk into a bowl, pour ½ TSP of pure vanilla extract in.  Mix thoroughly until it’s a consistent texture and color.  If you love vanilla, feel free to add a little more than ½ TSP.  Finally, you will need 2 TBSP of sugar – I suggest putting it into a small bowl or cup and setting it aside.

Once the prep work is done and the small-ish sauce pan is warmed up, poor the 1 cup of heavy cream in and quickly add the 2 TBSP of sugar.  Mix the sugar in good, then let it cook for about 5 minutes, stirring about once a minute.  The smaller sauce pan is better because if you use one that is too big, the cream will appear cooked before it actually is (almost all of the cream will be touching the surface of the pan, which you don’t want).  The hot cream is ready when there are small bubbles arising around the outer part of the pan. 

This is not the finished cream... just imagine it with little bubbles

Once the hot cream is ready, slowly pour it into the bowl with the egg yolk and vanilla mixture (make sure that bowl is big enough for the cream!).  While pouring the hot cream in, mix continually so eggs don't begin cooking prematurely.  Once it’s all mixed together, grab a sieve, put a bowl underneath it, and pour the whole mixture through the sieve to get out any abnormalities (you gotta have smooth crème!). 

Now you are ready to put the mixture into the ramekins (or the smallest bowls you have).  Why has that water been boiling all this time?  Because you are going to pour hot water into the baking pan, filling it up about ½ inch.  If you have ramekins, this will be about half way up the ramekin.  This helps the crème bake evenly.

Before putting everything into the oven, loosely arrange aluminum foil over the baking pan.  Insert carefully into the oven, for 25-27 minutes.  You can use this time to clean up the mess you’ve just made in the kitchen.

You know the crème is ready when, after taking it out of the oven, there is a slight jiggle to the mixture – not runny like before you put it in, but not solid either - like a firm jello.  The color may not be perfectly the same in all the ramekins but do not fear:  they will all taste glorious.  But, alas, the waiting is not over!  Put the ramekins in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (3 is best). 

Now, for the best part!  Hopefully you have a torch handy, and if not then it’s time to buy one.  Coat the top of each ramekin with sugar.  Take the torch and begin slowly crisping up the crème by hovering the flame above it.  Don’t touch the flame to the sugar or you’ll burn it – you want it to change color slowly until it gets as golden brown as you desire.  For a little extra something, we added crushed candied pecans to the finished product – raspberries or bananas are also favorite toppings.  None of those are necessary as the crème brulee is a champion on its own as well.  Enjoy!

I'd like to say thanks to my amazing wife for sharing her blog-space with me!  If you want to check out some of my normal writing/blogging, visit - Chris Ritter


  1. I think I should forward this link to Kenny. He wanted Ramekins, so we got some, and we never used them. And he has time to surprise me every Friday.... hehe.