Creme brulee is like a cousin of the flan. Plus, once the top is shattered with a spoon, there’s a fun textural element added on.
- 500 ml heavy cream
- 1 whole vanilla bean
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup of sugar
- 3 large egg yolks
- Granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 325 F.
- Split vanilla bean in half length-wise. Scrap out the inner goodness (the seeds) with the back of a paring knife or a butter knife. Put the seed-pulp and bean in sauce pan with the cream over medium heat. Let it steep for at least 20 minutes. Take it off the heat and add vanilla extract.
- In a bowl (big enough to hold the cream mixture and eggs), whisk the eggs and sugar together well (but don't try to incorporate air into the mixture).
- Pour about ½ cup of the hot-warm cream mixture and whisk (don't incorporate air). Pour in the rest of the cream in a stream while stirring constantly.
- Divide the mixture among three single-serving ramekins. Carefully place ramekins in a large baking dish. Put the set-up into the hot oven and care-ful-ly add hot water into the baking dish; don't get water into the creme brulee custard. Let the water come about halfway up the sides.
- Bake for about 40 minutes, until the top looks less liquidy, but definitely still jiggly.
- Cool the creme brulee in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
- Take cooled creme brulee and top with granulated sugar, enough to cover the entire surface. The more you use, the thicker/crunchier the top will be. (I like a very thick top myself.)
- Take a torch (you don't need one of those mini ones—if you have a full-sized baby, use it) and on a low setting (yellow flame), hold it about 4-inches from the sugar top and melt the sugar. It might look like nothing is happening for a while, but lo and behold, it will start to bubble and turn brown. STOP before it turns coffee brown.
While whole milk or half-and-half can be substitute for the cream, it doesn’t mean it should be. The result is a looser custard. Only resort to milk if there is no cream in the house and both your legs are broken (so you can’t go to the grocery store).
A water bath ensures even heat transfer, so that the custard is cooked all the way through. No tough spots around the edges. No liquid in the middle.
Mine cracked slightly, but no worries! It will be covered with sugar anyway.
For those who don’t have a blowtorch, I’ve heard that putting the creme brulee under a broiler works well, too. However, I haven’t tried this myself yet.