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Crème Brûlée

adapted from King Arthur Flour
Creamy vanilla pudding with a crunchy crust on top
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 5 Tbsp vanilla sugar (the kind with the vanilla bean ground up into the sugar–if you don’t have it use granulated sugar and add the scrapings of 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 cups 1 pint heavy cream (or 1 cup light cream and 1 cup heavy cream, which is what I used)
  • hot water to fill a pan
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 5 Tbsp vanilla sugar until sugar dissolves. Set aside.
  • Start heating a kettle of water. At the same time, pour the cream into a medium sauce pan (add the vanilla bean scrapings, if using) and heat over medium until bubbles form around the perimeter of the pan. Remove from heat.
  • Pour the heated cream into the eggs/sugar mixture, whisking the entire time. Whisk for another minute to combine completely.
  • Through a fine mesh sieve, pour the custard into four 1/2-cup ramekins. Place the ramekins in a baking pan and pour the hot water from the kettle into the pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  • Bake about 30 minutes, or until the custard is set but still a little jiggly in the middle (it took 27 minutes in my oven). Remove ramekins from baking pan (if you have a jar lifter, it works perfectly for this!) and cool completely, refrigerating uncovered for 1-2 hours, or up to overnight.
  • When ready to serve, sprinkle about 1/2 Tbsp of granulated sugar over the surface of each custard and pass a lit kitchen torch back and forth over the sugar, browning as evenly as possible. You’re trying to melt the sugar here, not turn it black. It may take a few tries til you get the hang of it. I know I’m definitely out of practice. If you do not have a kitchen torch, you can brown the sugar under your oven’s broiler–just watch it carefully to make sure you don’t overdo it.

Notes

I tried to use turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw) for my first two attempts at brûlée-ing and had a lot of problems getting it even and not too dark/burnt tasting. Regular granulated sugar worked much better for me. I recommend that for a beginner, as you’re more likely to be successful on the first try.