Ruthie’s asked us to dinner. A nice cozy pot-luck party of eight. Guess who gets to bring dessert?
OK by me. This is the kind of party I love…friends and their favorite foods, all sitting around the table, eating, talking, relaxing. This is the time for creme brulee (apologies right now for not showing all the appropriate accent marks – I’ve looked but I’ll be damned if I can find them).
12 egg yolks
2 quarts of heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
1 cup sugar
About 1/2C turbinado sugar
Preheat the oven to 350F. Put a large saucepan of water on to boil.
Put the heavy cream in a large saucepan on the burner. Place the vanilla bean on your cutting board and gently pull it out until it’s straight and flat. Hold down the stem end with your thumb. Using a sharp paring knife, carefully slit the bean in two right down the length of the bean. Run the back of the knife down the length of the cut open bean, removing all of the seeds. Add the seeds, and the bean itself, to the heavy cream. Simmer the cream for 20 minutes without bringing to a boil, stirring now and then.
While cream is simmering, put the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix on medium, until the egg mixture falls off the upheld beater in a “ribbon” pattern.
Continue mixing a bit slower at this point. With mixer on, slowly add about 1C of the cream into the egg mixture, then proceed to add the rest of the cream.
Place a roasting pan, large enough to hold all of your ramekins without touching, on a cookie sheet. Slowing pour the egg/cream mixture into the ramekins just to the lip. Then slowly add the hot water until it comes halfway up the outside of the ramekin. This is referred to as cooking in a bain marie, or water bath.
Bake for about 60 minutes, or just until firm in center. Cool.
Just before serving, sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the surface of each creme brulee. Using a propane touch or broiler, melt the sugar, letting it then harden until you get an even, hard surface. Serve.
Note: It’s smart to have on hand a few smaller ramekins. The last thing you want to do is discard this incredible mixture.
Vanilla bean pic courtesy of: vanillastore.ca
Ramekin pic courtesy of: crateandbarrel.com
Kent McDonald is a Certified Personal Chef, living and working in Phoenix, AZ. (c) All Rights Reserves, 2009
You can now follow him on Twitter.