If you have followed me for a while you probably know that my husband will spend the next eight months in Arizona for a job. The girls and I are staying behind in North Carolina. My husband and I decided we just can’t uproot the girls again, especially for a temporary job. Our hope is that once the season is over he will find a job back in our area.
So over the past two weeks we have been doing a lot of special things with my husband, like taking him to his favorite Indian restaurant, out to the movies, treating him to surprise lunch with our girls at a great little Mexican place we discovered, and making him many of his favorite foods.
Well, crème brûlée happens to be one of my husband’s favorite desserts!
For those of you who do not know, crème brûlée is a scrumptious custard dessert topped with a thin layer of crispy caramel. The caramel layer is created by burning sugar on top of the custard with a culinary torch or broiler. Once the sugar has melted and turned to caramel, the cold custard underneath hardens the sugar into a crust.
I’d never attempted to make a crème brûlée before because I thought it would be too difficult. But I was so wrong! As long as the prep-work is done properly, it’s not much more difficult to make a than a boxed cake mix. And it’s much better!
I decided to to surprise my husband by learning how to make crème brûlée. I researched several recipes and instructions before my first attempt. I chose a traditional recipe made with vanilla and Grand Marnier. And it was pretty good, but it didn’t WOW anyone. So I kept looking. I didn’t really find any recipes that stood out for me. They were all very similar, give or take an ingredient. Finally, I decided to “wing it” and make something that I thought would be spectacular. And it was!
The couple of things you really need to know before you try to make a crème brûlée: first, read through the recipe several times before starting. Next, make sure you mise-en-place (a French phrase that means literally, “put in place”) your equipment and ingredients before you start anything. This will save you time and make everything go much more smoothly.
My Ankarsrum Original Stand Mixer, with it’s powerful and quiet 600-watt motor, made easy work of this dessert! No need to be nervous about pouring hot ingredients into the plastic mixing bowl. The Double Whisk Bowl is made from Tritan Plastic, which is PBA- and BPS-free, and it’s also free of estrogenic and androgenic activity (EA- and AA-free). Which means it is perfectly safe to pour the hot liquids directly into the bowl. If you want to check out the Ankarsrum Original Stand Mixer for yourself, take a look here.
To complete this recipe you will need the following equipment: six 4 oz ceramic ramekins, a small sauce pan, kettle or large pot to boil water, whisk (I prefer a flat whisk), rubber scraper, 3/4 cup measuring cup, and a half-size baking sheet (I used a 15×21″ sheet) or roasting pan that fits all six ramekins (place them inside the pan to be sure they fit. It’s important you have all the ramekins in one pan. The sides of the ramekins can touch, but they all need to be level to cook evenly). Optional equipment: a in-oven thermometer, and culinary torch with high-quality butane fuel.
Chocolate Irish Crème brûlée
Yields 6 Creme Brulees
15 minPrep Time
35 minCook Time
55 minTotal Time
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 large egg
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons Irish Cream liquor
- 4 ounces good quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/8 cup Turbinado Sugar, for the topping (you can substitute with white sugar)
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
- On the stove place a large pan or kettle filled with water over high heat until boiling.
- In the bowl of your mixer add the egg, yolks, and a 1/2 cup of white sugar.
- Mix on low, using the beater or whisk attachment, until just combined, then turn off mixer.
- Add cream into a small saucepan.
- Scald the cream over a medium-high heat (cook to just before boiling--below 180 degrees F) whisking continuously to prevent it from burning. I use an electronic thermometer to keep an eye on the temp.)
- Immediately add the chopped chocolate to the scaled cream and mix well.
- Now you need to temper your eggs. If you add all of the hot cream to the eggs they will scramble. Turn your mixer on to low, add 1/2 tablespoon of hot cream to the eggs, wait a few seconds and then add another 1/2 tablespoon, and then add one more just to be safe. Keep the mixer running on low and very slowly add the remaining hot cream. I took over a minute to pour all of the cream into the egg mixture.
- Once the cream mixture is blended in, add the vanilla and Irish cream.
- Turn off the mixer.
- Using a spoon, scrape any foam from the top of the mixture and discard.
- Using a 3/4 cup measuring cup, fill the ramekins evenly just below the lip of the ramekin.
- Place the baking sheet with the ramekins in your oven on the middle rack.
- Very slowly pour the boiling water into the baking sheet being careful not to spill the water into ramekins. (Do not skip this part. The water bath will help the custard cook evenly and prevent the custard from cracking.) The water should come just over halfway up the outside of the ramekins.
- Bake until just set (approximately 35 minutes). To test if the custards are done, use tongs to lightly shake the ramekins. The custard should jiggle and not be liquid-y.
- Carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath. (I leave the pan in the oven and remove them to a cooling rack.) Then when the water has cooled I'll remove the baking sheet and dump the water in the sink.
- Cool on a cooling rack for 1 hour, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours (can be made up to 3 days in advance).
- When ready to serve: Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar evenly over the top of each custard.
- Using a culinary torch, melt the sugar until it caramelizes by making short passes over the top of the custards with the flame not quite touching. (You can also place under the broiler 2 inches from the heat source but it's much more fun to use the torch!) However you choose to brulee the sugar, do not let the sugar get too dark or it will taste burnt).
- Let sit for 5 minutes, then serve.
- Garnish with fruit or chocolate shavings, if desired.
IMPORTANT HINT: Make sure you have all your ingredients AND equipment prepped and ready to go. For equipment you will need: six 4 oz ceramic ramekins, a small sauce pan, candy, instant, or in oven thermometer, whisk (I prefer a flat whisk), rubber scraper, 1/2 cup measuring cup, a half-size baking sheet (15x21") or roasting pan that fits all six ramekins (place them inside the pan to be sure they fit. It's important you have all the ramekins in one pan. The sides of the ramekins can touch, but they all need to be level to cook evenly.) and a culinary torch with high-quality butane fuel (okay you don't HAVE to have the torch, but it's so much more fun to use than the broiler!)