photo by Lynne CalamiaClassic creamy vanilla custard with a crisp, browned sugar topping.I love creme brûlée because I get to burn up something with a torch. When the brûlée rage hit back in the '90s, the market was flooded with Lilliputian "brûlée torches," which are nothing more than glorified butane lighters that are hard to fill and grotesquely underpowered, not to mention grotesquely overpriced. Do yourself a favor and go down to your local hardware store and get yourself an honest-to-goodness propane torch. Oh, and pick up an extra fire extinguisher while you're at it. This recipe first appeared in Season 9 of Good Eats.
ACTIVE TIME: 45 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 3 hours 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
- 1 quart heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 1 cup vanilla sugar, divided
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2 quarts hot water
Heat oven to 325ºF.
Combine the cream, vanilla bean pod and its pulp in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean pod and reserve for another use, such as making vanilla sugar.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the vanilla sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream, a little at a time, stirring constantly.
Pour the liquid into 6 (7- to 8-ounce) ramekins. Place the ramekins in a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the creme brûlée is set, but still trembling in the center, 40 to 45 minutes.
Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days. Remove the creme brûlée from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to serving. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup vanilla sugar equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the creme brûlée to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.