Creme Brulee, just the sound of it intimidates a lot of people... french, decadent, rich, delightful, creamy, and YES! simple too... really, I mean it! I make it a lot when I have people over. It always impresses my guests. You make it ahead of time, so you have time to enjoy it with your friends ;) and not to mention, the entertainment it provides... lol, when people see me coming with my torch, they love it!!! :)
I used eggs from our hens, so it turned out delicious and bright yellow.
Here is what you'll need to make 4 of them:
4 cold egg yolks
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped off, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
2 quarts boiling water (use teakettle)
Preheat oven to 325 F, rack in mid position.
Place cream and vanilla bean with its pulp into a heavy bottomed saucepan and whisk briefly to disperse the seeds. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, remove from heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl lightly whisk the cold egg yolks, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the salt, just to combine and set aside.
Make sure the cream is warm, but not too hot (it shouldn't be above 165 F, if it is, let cool before proceeding) Lightly whisk about 1/2 cup of the cream vanilla mixture into the yolk mixture and stir for about 30 seconds to temper the yolks (this will make sure the yolks don't get cooked). Then gently whisk in the remaining cream, stirring for about 15-20 seconds only. You don't want the mixture to get frothy or they will have a foamy looking surface. If using vanilla extract, stir it in now.
I like to sieve the mixture over a large Pyrex measuring cup with a spout to strain out any solids and for easy pouring into ramekins. Place the ramekins in the baking pan, dividing the custard base evenly among the four of them. Slowly pour the hot water from the teakettle into the pan until about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the ramekins (don't get any water in them)
Bake until set but trembling in the middle, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove ramekins from pan and let cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
Remove from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before browning the top. Divide equally the 4 remaining teaspoons of sugar (if you like a thicker crust, use more sugar) and spread evenly on top. Hold the torch flame 2 to 3 inches from the top to melt the sugar slowly gliding it back and forth over the surface until the sugar melts and turns deep golden brown.
Allow the sugar to cool and harden for about 5 minutes and then serve immediately, before the sugar softens, gets sticky and looses its crunch.