Crème brûlée

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Crème brûlée - everyone's all time favourite dessert!

Assiette of desserts with creme brulee, Prosecco and berry jelly, chocolate coated strawberry, eton mess and sticky toffee pudding
Luckily for chefs it's also one of the easiest in terms of making and serving, and it's also pretty cost effective too. 

It's also one of those recipes that is imprinted on the brain. AND I've got a super quick way of preparing it - cut the faffing around!

Crème Brûlée Recipe
Makes 4 x 150ml ramekins 

500ml Double Cream
6 - 7 egg yolks (depends on how hard you would like them set & also the size of your eggs)
100g Caster Sugar
About 1/4 tsp Vanilla paste (I used an intense one full of vanilla seeds. If you use a cheaper one you may need more - taste and see!)
Demerara sugar to serve

  1. Preheat oven to 140 oC.
  2. Mix all these ingredients together in a mixing bowl with a whisk till well combined. 
  3. Place ramekins in a deep baking tray.
  4. Mix the brûlée mix up once again to make sure it's evenly mixed before pouring. 
  5. Pour into the ramekins from a jug up to 1 cm from the top of the ramekin. 
  6. Pour water in the baking tray to come 1/2 way up the ramekins. This ensures even cooking and they don't burn on the edges. 
  7. They will take about 45 minutes in the oven.
  8. Take out of the oven carefully and check they're done - they should feel set when gently shaken. You can poke a skewer into the middle - the custard should be solid, not runny. Note - they firm up as they cool down. 
  9. Allow to cool and refrigerate till needed. 
  10. To serve sprinkle a generous layer of demerara sugar on top and glaze with a blow torch till the sugar caramelises evenly. The topping stays crunchy for about 45 minutes so you want to be doing this just before serving. Also nice to serve with homemade shortbread. 
To make the mini brûlée you can scale the recipe to the amount you need to make. The pots I had were 30ml, so you can get 20 of those from this mix. 

Assiette of desserts with creme brulee, chocolate torte, eton mess, lemon tart and mini bread and butter pudding

  • Add raspberries to the ramekin before you pour on the brûlée mix. You'll need slightly less brûlée. Or add poached peaches as well for a peach melba brûlée
  • Orange brulee - add some orange segements and slightly reduce the cream mix and replace it with Grand Manier or Cointreau - 25ml or so.
  • For cinnamon fans out there try a festive cinnamon and honey brulee. You can infuse the cream with a cinnamon stick.
  • Lemon grass crème brûlée - infuse the cream with 2 sticks of chopped up lemongrass. Nice after a thai meal or curry. 
  • Lavender - infuse the cream with lavender. You have to check with your guests they like lavender - it's lovely, but not to everyone's taste sadly. 

Why is my crème brûlée runny?

Either not cooked long enough or not enough egg yolk to cream ratio. For years I used to make the above recipe with 5 egg yolks to 500ml cream. It makes a nice soft set. But it takes longer to set  in the oven and if you are transporting them to a venue as I was, you really want a firmer set so I increased it to 6 or 7 yolks per 500ml of cream depending on the size of the eggs. 

Should crème brûlée be hot or cold?

One guest complained once that they're crème brûlée was served cold. At home, a lot of people put them under the grill to glaze the sugar. The only problem with this is it heats up the custard too. With a blow torch it just glazes the top without heating the underneath. Nice, if you're used to it that way. 

Can you freeze crème brûlée?

Actually yes - you can! When they're cooked and cooled pop them in the freezer. Then they just need defrosting for a few hours, or overnight in the fridge prior to glazing and serving. You can't tell they've been frozen. 

How long does crème brûlée last in the fridge?

4 - 5 days at the most. 

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