Congratulations! You are about to embark on a culinary journey that will expand your culinary skills while also providing you with a veritable treat: crème brûlée! Crème brûlée is considered to be one of the holy grails of desserts when it comes to home cooking. It is surrounded in an air of mystery, but with a little help, crème brûlée can be conquered by any home cook. These instructions will guide you on your quest to creating a masterpiece that will give anyone's taste buds a thrill.
Below is outlined the recipe, required skills, and a few warnings to ensure a pleasant kitchen experience.
For recipe, see recipe card.
Time for Completion:
Prep time: 30-45 min
Cook time: 1 hr
Chill time: 8 hrs
Skills: This recipe assumes you have previous experience with basic kitchen skills such as mixing, measuring , and baking. Also, this recipe assumes you understand how to separate eggs.
Oven: Be sure to use oven mitts whenever working with the oven to avoid burning your hands. When opening the oven, do not place your face or any other part of your body near the door due to steam build-up that will rush out.
ALLERGY WARNING: Please check the following list for any items you may be allergic to:
Blowtorch: If you are using a blow torch, please read the following warnings!
After you are sure that you have enough fuel in your torch, you need to learn the proper way of using the torch safely. Find the air control lever and push it as far back as it can. Find the flame adjustment lever and take it to a higher setting than the lowest; make sure that it is not too high or it’ll cause a huge flame. You can adjust the flame setting later if you are already accustomed to using the torch. If your torch has a safety lock, unlock it. Press the ignition lever to ignite the torch. Hold the lever down to keep the flame burning. Point the flame to the food you want to melt or caramelize. Move the flame around to cover the entire area. Simply release the lever when you are done to stop the flame. http://kitchentorch.org/creme-brulee-kitchen-torch-safety-instructions/
Ramekins: When handling the ramekins, you should remove them from the boiling water using tongs or oven mitts that cover up roughly 4 inches past your wrist to avoid being splashed and burned by the water.
Hot water bath: Handle the hot water bath using oven mitts that cover up roughly 4 inches past your wrist to avoid being splashed and burned by the water.
Step 1: Supplies and Ingredients
A mixing bowl
1-2 stirring spoons
A 9in. x 13in. baking pan
A method of boiling water (tea kettle, electric kettle, or pot)
Measuring cups and spoons
Oven: preheated to 250°F (Used in step 6)
Optional: an internet-ready device that can be used to view this Instructables in your cooking area and a printed version of the recipe.
Note: If you do not already own ramekins, they can generally be bought at your local grocery store or ordered online. Unfortunately, there is no viable substitute for ramekins.
For one batch, approximately 8 ramekins worth, you will need:
8 Grade A eggs
½ cup granulated sugar
2 cups of heavy cream (also known as whipping cream)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (can substitute 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste or one vanilla bean)
Extra sugar for topping (can be normal sugar or turbinado sugar/Sugar in the Raw)
Step 2: Egg Mix
Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites.
Add the yolks into the mixing bowl.
Add the correct amount of sugar needed.
Mix until the sugar and eggs are fully integrated.
Note: There is no further use for the egg whites in this recipe. You can save them for other recipes such as: meringue, omelets, etc.
Step 3: Cream
There are two methods that can be used in completing this step.
i. Heat the cream in a cooking pan until it is about to simmer.
ii. Heat the cream to a simmer and then remove from heat for 1-2 minutes.
Warning: BE CAREFUL not to let the cream boil.
Step 4: Temper and Vanilla
Stir your egg mixture vigorously while adding cream a tablespoon at a time, completely incorporating the cream before adding more. ALWAYS ADD CREAM TO EGG. Do not stop stirring at any point while adding cream. (The Youtube link below shows this process in more detail.)
Add the vanilla and stir into the mixture.
Note: This is the most critical and difficult step of the process of making crème brûlée. Adding your cream and eggs together is done in a process known as ‘tempering’. This process allows us to add hot cream to cool eggs without resulting in creamy scrambled eggs. As more cream is added, you can add more quickly, but always err on the side of caution. An assistant can be useful to help you add the cream while you stir. If you would like a more in-depth discussion of tempering, see the troubleshooting section.
Step 5: Ramekins, Water Bath, Cook and Cool
Preheat oven to 250°F. If you are using a convection oven, be sure to set it to convection bake.
Pour mix into ramekins. Allow enough space between the fill line and the top of the ramekins to ensure no spillage.
Transport filled ramekins to the baking dish. Space ramekins evenly from each other and the baking dish walls.
Carefully pour boiling water into the pan, making sure to avoid spilling water into the ramekins. Fill the pan until the water level is half of the height of the ramekins. (The Youtube link below shows this process in more detail.)
Place in oven and bake for 1 hour.
Warning: DO NOT open the oven during cooking as it will cause an unsafe drop in oven temperature, causing your crème brûlée to not turn out properly.
Note: This process is known as a water bath which is used mainly for custards and puddings because they require a lot of moisture while cooking, as well as a milder heat source than the oven. If you wish to see further discussion on water bath techniques, please see the troubleshooting section.
Step 6: Remove Ramekins
Immediately remove the ramekins from the water bath.
Cool ramekins on cookie racks to room temperature.
Cover each ramekin with tinfoil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours.
Warning: BE EXCEEDINGLY CAREFUL while removing ramekins—it will be very easy to burn yourself on the water or the ramekins themselves. Use tongs with rubber grips to pull out the ramekins and place them onto a rack to cool to room temperature. Do NOT leave the ramekins to cool in the water bath, as they will continue cooking.
Step 7: Burnt Sugar
Remove the water from surface of the crème brûlée by dabbing with a paper towel.
Evenly spread a thin layer of extra sugar on the surface.
There are two methods discussed below to burn the sugar:
i. Torch: Move the flame back and forth over the crème brûlée with smooth, sweeping movements until the sugar becomes a dark brown color.
ii. Broiling: Place the ramekins 8 inches from the top oven element for 4-7 min and WATCH CAREFULLY to prevent charring.
Step 8: Conclusion
Recipe based off of Cooking with Engineers (http://www.cookingforengineers.com/recipe/32/Creme-Brulee-Cregraveme-Brucircleacutee) with alterations based off of the Pioneer Woman’s recipe (http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/07/creme-brulee/).
Step 9: Troubleshooting
a. Tempering issues
The point of tempering is to heat up your eggs slowly enough to prevent sudden solidification i.e., scrambling. By adding the hot cream slowly, no particular amount of egg is made hot enough to solidify, while gradually raising the temperature of the whole egg mix. Therefore, if your mix scrambles, you’ve done one of two things: stirred too slowly or added cream too quickly. (Third option: you’ve done both.)
Obtaining a kitchen helper who can pour while you stir is one of the simplest ways to solve both potential problems at once. BE SURE to already be stirring before you begin pouring your cream. Pouring the cream and then beginning to stir will result in curdling.
When adding cream, begin with a small measuring spoon, either a teaspoon or tablespoon. Do not dump the entire amount in, but pour it in as slowly as you can, and repeat. Usually when about half the cream has been added, it is safe to pick up your pot and slowly pour directly from it. Be sure your additions of cream are fully combined before adding more.
b. Water bath
With short ramekins, it can be difficult to judge the appropriate amount of water to add, or find an appropriate way to add it.
1. Fill amount: Add small amounts at a time and check the resultant depth. You can use something like a wooden skewer to stick into the water by a ramekin. Mark off the height of the ramekin with your fingers and remove the skewer. If the water line is halfway to the ramekin mark, your bath is done. If not, add more water and check again.
2. Pouring: It may be easier to transfer your water to a vessel designed for pouring, like a liquid measuring cup. Be extremely careful not to burn yourself on the water or the steam.
Step 10: Variations
S’mores Crème Brûlée – Add crushed graham crackers, mini-chocolate chips and mini-marshmallows to the top of the crème brûlée custard, heat with a kitchen torch to melt chips and marshmallows.
Strawberry Crème Brûlée – Place fresh, sliced strawberries on the bottom of each ramekin before adding the custard.
Cinnamon Crème Brûlée – Add 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon to the sugar when you are dissolving the sugar in the egg.
Egg Nog Crème Brûlée – Swap out 1 cup of heavy cream for 1 cup of eggnog. If you REALLY like eggnog you can swap out 2 cups of heavy cream for 2 cups of eggnog.
Chocolate Crème Brûlée – Melt 4 ounces semisweet chocolate (chips, chunks, blocks, whatever!) in a saucepan, then add the 1 cup cream. Reduce sugar to 1/3 cup. Make sure it is well blended before removing from heat. Make sure it is cool when you add to egg, as the mixture may be too thick to strain. Reduce vanilla to 1 teaspoon.
White Chocolate Crème Brûlée – Melt 4 ounces white chocolate (chips, chunks, blocks, whatever!) in a saucepan, then add the 1 cup cream. Reduce sugar to 1/3 cup. Make sure it is well blended before removing from heat. Make sure it is cool when you add to egg, as the mixture may be too thick to strain. Reduce vanilla to 1 teaspoon.
Maple Crème Brûlée – Use 1/2 cup maple syrup instead of the 1/2 cup sugar.
Blueberry Crème Brûlée – Place fresh blueberries on the bottom of each ramekin before adding the custard.
Nutella Crème Brûlée – Add 2 Tablespoons Nutella when heating the cream.
Variations courtesy of The Slimmer Kitchen (http://www.slimmerkitchen.com/creme-brulee-50-variations/)