Looking for a simple elegant dessert for the holidays (or any time) ? My all time favorite is Creme Brulee. The very first time I had it was 22 years ago in a lovely restaurant in Northern California called Larrupins. A magnificent little place out in the middle of nowhere on the coast, north of Eureka on Humboldt Bay. Their menu changed daily with entrees from whatever was available and fresh that day. They had an appetizer board you could get that had several cheeses and roasted garlic and homemade whole grain baguettes, toasted just right. And some kind of fruit...pears maybe or apples. Ahhhhh...even thinking about that place gives me the goosebumps. My friend Craig was playing jazz there a few evenings a week, and I went along and we had some dessert there, and he suggested the Brulee, and I had never tasted it before.
OH. MY. GOD. I thought I had died and gone to food heaven. Every bite nearly made me cry with joy. And for a long time, I was sure that the only way you could reproduce that experience was to go to Larrupins and order it from their menu. lol That only a true culinary genius could produce that marvel of cream and sugar and whatever other magic was in there.
Not so. I started nosing around when I had bought too much heavy whipping cream one year at Christmas, and to to my delight found tons of recipes. And they were varying degrees of simple. The very easiest and one I use mostly came out of a low carb cookbook. They made it with splenda, which I would never do, but it is a really good easy recipe.
I made it for our little Christmas Eve supper this year, because I knew it would WOW! my guest, but mostly because I wanted some. lol We don't eat a lot of dairy, but this is the exception. So--let's go!
You'll need (for this size recipe) 4 oven safe custard dishes. I use a Corning 7 oz dish, some recipes call for a smaller shallow ramekin, but we don't mess around when we eat Creme Brulee. lol I bought them in a set of 4 and they work great.
You'll also need:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla
Brown sugar to taste
First, put the cream and vanilla in a heavy saucepan and heat until warm. Watch it and don't overheat.
Next, put the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and mix well. I use a whisk or a fork.
Then pour this into the saucepan and mix together thoroughly, Use a whisk. Divide the mixture into the 4 ramekins. Take a 9x13 pan and put about 1 inch of hot water in it, place the filled ramekins in it and put in a preheated 300 degree oven and cook until set. This will take about 45-50 minutes.
When they're done, you have 2 options. Personally, I like mine cooled completely, chilled and then topped at the last minute before serving. But you can serve them, right out of the oven too...sprinkle a little brown sugar on top and put under the broiler until the sugar crystallizes. Unless you're me. Of course, for Christmas one year, Santa brought me a lovely little Brulee torch that runs on butane and I have a ball torching the tops of it, just like Julia Child.
You could also top it with raspberries or caramel, but I like the purist version of it with just the smidgen of caramelized sugar on top. And every time I have ever served this, people thought I walked on water...and you KNOW I always like that. lol It is incredibly rich and silky and an absolutely beautifully elegant dessert to serve to anyone who is NOT lactose intolerant.
Bon Apetit !