Thursday, December 2, 2010

Taste Buds: Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee


With every recipe I grow more confident in the kitchen as a cook, as a baker, as a wonder extraordinaire and then there are those recipes that kick me in the pants. But first before we get to the debacle of this story lets concentrate on something new, a real vanilla bean. I have of course heard of vanilla beans, vanilla bean ice cream is actually one of my favourite flavours and of course I have also used vanilla extract a million times and then there is that small obsession I have with vanilla candles... however I go adrift. With a life surrounded by a love for vanilla things I had never seen a real vanilla bean... it was not what I was expecting. For some reason I was thinking a bean like a lima bean, or a coffee bean when in fact the vanilla bean looks like a black shrived green bean. I was a little put off by the sight of it, but then I cut it open and the delicious undiluted flavour of vanilla picked me up and danced me around the kitchen... LOVE YOU VANILLA!


So back to the recipe which is really quite simple even though there are a lot of steps; each step was not hard as long as you follow the directions precisely. The problem that I ran into actually was an equipment one. For a real crème brulee recipe you need a kitchen blow torch, alas I was not prepared to run out and get one to have another random rarely used piece of equipment in my kitchen, we already have many of those, so I found recipes online that used the broiler. Prefect I have a broiler!


We made the entire recipe which gave us four ramekins of crème brulee, the first batch (two ramekins) went into the oven, the broiler went on and once the 1-2 minutes passed that the online form stated was long enough to brown the sugar our sugar was still pure white. We waited anxiously staring through the little glass window into the oven and it took FIVE MINUTES for our crème brulee sugar topping to caramelize and only half poor uneven caramelize at that. Sadly because it took so long the custard part was hot... it is supposed to be cold. By cooking it so long the custard boiled causing it to get this really funky horrible eggy flavor, it was so bad neither of us finished our tiny little cup of desert. THE BROILER FAILURE NUMBER ONE.

But it’s ok we still have two more little ramekins to try and get it right. On our second attempt (I decided to only do one ramiken in case this version didn’t work either) I thought that maybe if we got the ramekin closer to the source of heat then it would caramelize faster and leave the custard cool and delicious. We did succeed in cutting the time to carmalization to 4 minutes but still the custard was eggy, less so than attempt number one but still not right. THE BROILER STACKED FAILURE NUMBER TWO.


Defeated I turned to my husband who from the start said that a blow torch was the only way you could make the caramelized top perfect. I hate when I get stubborn and don’t listen to him because he is generally always right. Because we didn’t have a kitchen blow torch my husband brought out his super large outdoor heavy duty blow torch... a bit overkill if you ask me but he was so HAPPY to get it out.


After 1 minute he was able to caramelize the sugar and we were left with the perfect crème brulee. BUT YEA THE THIRD ATTEMPT IS JUST RIGHT!


Sometimes Mr. Rogue is hard to live with, he’s just too perfect that is except when he does not want to share.


2 cups heavy double whipping cream
½ vanilla bean split
5 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
4 tsp sugar for the caramelized top

1. Make sure you have four ¾ cup sized ramekins and a medium casserole pan.
2. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise. In a sauce pan over medium heat combine vanilla bean and cream. Stirring occasionally (make sure the bottom does not burn) bring to a gentle boil. Remove the pan from the heat. Take out the vanilla bean and gently using a sharp knife scrape out the seeds into the cream. Cover the pot and let it sit for 20 minutes.
3. Put egg yolks into a mixing bowl and let sit to room temperature.
3. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
4. Bring the cream to almost a boil. While the cream is heating add the sugar to the egg yolks and whisk. Once the cream is hot slowly while stirring pour cream into the egg mixture.
5. Return mixture to medium heat and cook stirring constantly until the custard has thickened, about 4 minutes. Be sure to NOT LET IT BOIL.
6. Pour the custard into the ramekins through a strainer to catch any large chunks of vanilla bean or curdled cream. You may need to use a spoon to stir the custard in the strainer to push it through the holes as the custard is thick. Work quickly the custard will get thicker as it cools.
7. Arrange the ramekins in the casserole pan, using very hot tap water fill the pan until the water is ½ way up the side of the ramekins. Cover the entire casserole with tin foil and bake for 40 minutes.
8. Remove the casserole from the oven and leave sit for 30 minutes. Uncover gently being careful not to burn yourself with the steam. When the ramekins are cool to the touch put them into the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight until chilled.
9. Just before serving sprinkle a thin even 1 teaspoon layer of sugar into each ramekin. Use a kitchen blow torch to caramelize the sugar. (You can attempt to use the broiler to caramelize the sugar instead of a kitchen torch. I have found the best success when getting the ramekins as close to the heat as possible.)


lilmansworld said...

You can also make wonderful flavored oils with vanilla beans. If I liked creme brulee I would ramble on and on but it is nice to see Mr Rogue enjoying it all for himself!

Ivy said...

SO SO JEALOUS!!! But I do have a LUSH vanilla bean bath bomb, so I will control my jealousy with that! Hey, this crazy kitchen escapade of your reminded me of a poem called "Practice Pheasant." Here it is. I hope you enjoy the sentiment at the end. Somehow I know you will. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxrbkfdBqFc

paul peggy zeus said...

I so love Colins manic expression with that blow torch - I can just see him coming into the kitchen with it like a scary movie! lol

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