The rich smooth-textured dessert is known as Burnt Cream in England where is has been popular since the seventeenth century. It was not, however, until late in the nineteenth century that the French term crème brûlée, which means precisely the same thing, became popular and the dessert became standard fare in many American restaurants.
The last few days I have been either eating out or drinking protein shakes or slurping Campbell’s chicken soup in order to help rest and recover from pushing myself too hard. I did treat myself to one homemade treat and what a homemade treat it was! I finally did it. I finally made crème brûlée. After much debate, running around to Canadian Tires and wearing myself out, I finally have the technology to make one of my favourites.
It started off with a phone call with my Mom. She wanted me to buy this crème brûlée torch at Canadian Tire as an early Christmas present for myself. I was so excited! What a deal! For $15 I could make crème brûlée in my own home. I went out the next day, found the torch and saw that the butane was not included. Butane eh? Hmmm…
I went in the camping section and there was this canister with all sorts of warnings on it including one about how you can get butane on your hands when you fill up your torch. Um, I am an air sign. I sensed a potential explosion in my near future. Not only that, I am Aquarius. Freaky stuff happens to Aquarians on a normal day with normal tools! A small flame thrower that requires toxic chemicals? In my kitchen near my food? I just could not do it!
So I walked all the way home with nothing to show for it. Thankfully I put my dilemma up on Facebook and the domestic Goddess Mrs. B came to my rescue. She had mentioned she just uses her husband’s heat gun from the garage to melt her sugar. I looked up heat guns at Canadian Tire and there was one on sale for only $9! It was 75% off! So what did I do? Go all the way over to Canadian Tire again as well as do a million other errands which was way too much. I kind of collapsed the next day. The good news? Once you have the materials and tools, crème brûlée is not difficult to make. It just takes time.
I have been saving my last vanilla bean for something special. I had friends coming over, I had my heat gun and zero energy. I knew, it was time to use the vanilla bean in my crème brûlée. I turned to Anna Olson once again and used her Classic Crème Brûlée recipe. I wanted the quintessential and classic technique and recipe. You can always count on Anna! I made half the recipe though and dividing it in half worked out just fine.
I scraped the vanilla seeds out of the beans and put them with one and a half cups of heavy cream. I threw in the vanilla pod too, not going to waste any of that flavour! I warmed up the heavy cream until it was just below a simmer.
Meanwhile, I whisked up 4 eggs yolks (fresh this time!) with a 1/4 cup of sugar. This dessert may be high in cholesterol but it isn’t bad on sugar! I whisked it up until it was nice and yellowy and a little fluffy. Then I removed the vanilla bean from the cream which I washed and dried and later put in with my sugar to make vanilla sugar. Down the sides of the mixer I added the hot vanilla cream. I strained the mixture into a bowl and chilled in the fridge.
I got out a large casserole dish, put down my cute little baking dishes and divided the batter into four portions. Then I added enough hot water to come up half way up the sides of the baking dishes. I put them in a preheated 350F oven for 45 minutes because they were small dishes and would not require extra baking. Then I removed them from the casserole dish, put them on a wire rack, let them cool for a while and put them in the fridge. They must chill for at least three hours. As I said, this is a little time consuming but not a lot of effort.
And then…I got out my heat gun! I sprinkled sugar on the top and used my heat gun to melt the sugar into crunchy caramel goodness.
Do you know that feeling? The cracking sound of breaking into the gooey custard through the golden glass? Absolute joy! And I did it! All by myself and feeling like crap, I made crème brûlée. My only issue is the heat of the gun kind of warmed up the custard but that is just me being picky, as always. To have one of my favourite desserts at home when I am not feeling well? Totally worth the $9 investment.
Anyone else try making this themselves? I would love to hear your story!