Introduction: Solar Baked Slow Creme Brulee
This is a no-muss no-fuss way to make a delicious dessert completely off-grid, using the sun. Good luck in keeping any around, it gets eaten up real fast around our house.
This is so simple and so good. Using a minimal amount of utensils (you only have to wash one mixing jar), and 3 mirrors with an outer insulating jar, you can make some slow cooked custard desserts completely offgrid.
Here's what you need.
In a quart canning jar, put in a pinch of salt. It's icky without salt.
Drop in a squirt of vanilla
Add sugar, a couple of tablespoons or a good shallow palm full, depending on how sweet you like it.
Add 3 eggs (note true brulee uses only the yolks, so it's your choice.) You can add more or less eggs, depending on how quickly you want to block your arteries.....
Add a few ounces of whole whipping cream and shake the hell out of to mix everything up.
Top up the jar with more cream, and then roll it around for a few minutes gently to mix it all. If you continue to shake the jar hard, you will eventually end up making butter, which might be interesting in itself...?
Pour it into 6 of your 8 ounce wide mouth canning jars, and srew the lids down snugly but not too tight.
Set 3 of the small jars as shown onto your 3-mirrored solar cooker, and cover it with a gallon glass or plastic outer jar. this outer jar will help build up the heat quickly. The 3 little jars fit just perfectly under the big one.
You can find how to easily make the 3-mirrored solar cooker on my other instructables pages. All you need is 3 square foot mirrors, some duct tape (tape the backs of the mirrors in case any of them ever break so you won't have sharp glass all over). Total cost less than $20 for 2 cookers. It is a very good idea (highly recommended) that you back the mirrors with wood to make it safer.
After an hour or so, take off outer jar, and move the lower little one to the top, and the top one down to the lower position. You want to let the lower cooler jar get some hot time at the top. The middle jar seems to work out just fine where it is.
How do you know when it's done? It takes about 3 hours or so in the sun (slow food you know) before you're ready to eat. You will find that when it's done, you can slowly turn over the jar, and you will see the custard separate from the side of the glass. This is an indication it has started to 'jell'. Of course you should open one up to test for sure and to taste. Note that it is a hard vacuum when cooled off and will take some effort to get the lid off. You will hear the air rush in when you pry the lid up with your thumbs slowly. Surprising amount of vacuum.
There has been concern voiced about the possibility of salmonella poisoning (thank you Cheese Queen), so here is an extract from Wiki about Salmonella...
"The bacteria are not destroyed by freezing, but UV light and heat accelerate their destruction—they perish after being heated to 55 °C (131 °F) for 90 min, or to 60 °C (140 °F) for 12 min. To protect against Salmonella infection, heating food for at least 10 minutes to an internal temperature of 75 °C (167 °F) is recommended."
If you have concerns (and you should), then be certain that your batch of Brulee' stays in the cooker long enough to reach appropriate temperatures. I have clocked (?) the 3-mirror cooker as being able to raise the temperature of a quart of water one degree per minute under good sunny conditions. Therefor if your custard mix goes into the cooker at 40 or 50 degrees, then in an hour that will rise to 100 degrees, a second hour will give 160, and a 3rd hour can get the whole batch to near boiling. Also consider that the cooker does concentrate UV light, as well as heat, which as we read above also kills the Salmonella and other organisms. The above Wiki tells us 10 minutes at over 167 F is adequate protection. I would recommend that you of course use a thermometer, and pop the end of it into the middle of one of your custards to see what the internal temp is. You may even want to cook the stuff for an extra hour if you wish (I don't know how it will turn out as I have not cooked any that long), but I don't know what that will do to the homogeneity of it...the stuff may separate, but I will try the next good sunny day and report back. Again, if you have concerns, measure the food with a thermometer. I will say that after 3 hours in the cooker, the jars are far far too hot to handle without a good potholder. Note, this cooking thus far has been done of good sunny days here in N. Nevada where our sun is outstanding. You can compensate for lesser quality of sun by cooking longer, eh? And don't forget the thermometer test.
PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO STORE THIS FOOD LONG TERM, IT IS PERISHABLE JUST LIKE ANY OTHER FOOD, ESPECIALLY ONE WHICH CONTAINS DAIRY AND EGGS. TO BE SAFEST YOU SHOULD EAT THIS THE SAME DAY YOU COOK IT, AND SHOULD PROBABLY LET IT GO NO LONGER THAN A COUPLE OF DAYS IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR -- JUST LIKE ANY OTHER PERISHABLE DAIRY.
Ummmmmmm., good, and note that you only have to wash the original quart mixing jar.