What’s not to like about smooth, rich creamy custard topped with a caramelized sugar topping? Crème brulee is French for “burnt cream” but the origins are English. It seems difficult, but is actually very easy to make with just an investment in time. And while a blow torch is fun for preparing the top, it certainly isn’t necessary. The broiler accomplishes the same thing. The beauty is it can be made ahead and simply torched or broiled just before serving. So show your Valentine how much you have burning love them with a meal ending that is far from ordinary.
Yield: 6-8 servings
1 quart heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 whole vanilla bean, split with inner pulp scraped
8 egg yolks
6-8 teaspoons superfine sugar
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar and the vanilla bean and pulp. Bring to a gentle boil, whisking to dissolve the sugar completely.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining granulated sugar. Slowly add 1 cup of the cream mixture, whisking constantly to blend. Gradually add back to the cream mixture in the saucepan. Whisk constantly for 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and set aside to cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Evenly fill 6-8 (6-ounce) ramekins with the cooled custard. Place in a baking dish large enough to hold the ramekins without touching. Fill the baking dish with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully transfer to the bottom third of the oven and bake 45 minutes or until just set. Carefully remove from the oven and the water bath and set on a wire rack to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours.
Two hours before serving. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the superfine sugar on the top of each custard. Either preheat the broiler on high and broil 2-3 minutes or caramelize the tops with a blow torch. Move the torch in a continuous motion across the tops until the sugar caramelizes. Enjoy!