Creme Brûlée is French for ‘burnt cream’.
What would have remained a delicious and creamy custard is lifted to sublime heights by caramelizing some sugar on top.
The origin of this simple but decadent dessert remains mired in controversy with the English, the Spanish and the French all claiming to have invented it. Whatever the truth, it is known the world over by its French name.
This surprisingly easy to make dessert is ideal when entertaining guests since most of the work can be done ahead.
The velvety smoothness and silkiness of the custard base, combined with the brittle sugar crust is sure to elicit appreciative comments from everyone. But the real ‘aha’ moment is when you crack the shell with your spoon!
The custard is traditionally made from cream, sugar and egg yolks and vanilla. So the next time you have some egg yolks sitting in your freezer, like I did after making the Angel Food Cake with Mango Mousse filling, you know what to do with them.
The custard is either cooked till it is thick and then chilled till set or it is baked in a water bath (bain marie) in the oven, in which case the custard is not thickened over the gas top.
To caramelize the sugar, you could place it under a broiler/ grill or use a butane blowtorch. (I bought one just to make this at home).
I like to make it in small ramekins so it is easier to serve, but if you like, you could make it in one tart dish.
The recipe I follow is the one from Masterchef and is fairly uncomplicated -1 egg yolk to 100 ml liquid. The only thing I do differently is use half cream and half full fat milk. Makes me feel less guilty!
While I love vanilla, you could unleash your creativity and experiment with the flavors. Add some Irish cream, lemon or orange zest, cranberries or blueberries, lavender, coffee or maybe a chocolate creme brulee, whatever takes your fancy.