Be Our Guest

To most people the perfect way to celebrate a birthday is with a cake, a deliciously amazing birthday cake for that matter. However I like to shake things up and be a little different so for Joe’s birthday I decided to try something I always thought was well beyond my skill level: a vanilla creme brulee. I researched recipes for about a month in advance, trying to get an idea of the mechanics behind this dessert. My initial conclusions were that if I could get beyond the terrifying torch idea this wouldn’t be too hard, and since it’s Joe’s favorite dessert no matter time then now to get over that problem. The next challenge came from picking a recipe, a simple search results in dozens upon dozens of results all of which are unique and tasty sounding. I looked at recipes from The Queen of Cream Miss Paula Deen and a number of other Food Network stars, and then checked out all recipes.com to see if I could glean anything from that treasure trove. In the end I settled with a butchered version of two recipes, one from cremebrulee.com and the other from Tyler Florence. The result was a lower fat option with all the taste. The only thing I might change when I try this again would be using Vanilla Caviar which I could not find at my grocery store. I have a feeling that would have taken this dessert to the next level and really made it a special occasion treat.

4 egg yolks
2 tbsp white sugar
3/4 cups light cream
1/4 cup half and half
2/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated white sugar (for the caramelized tops)


1. Preheat oven to 300ºF.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Add cream and vanilla, and continue to whisk until well blended. Strain into a large bowl, skimming off any foam or bubbles.
3. Divide mixture among 4 ramekins or custard cups. Place ramekins in a water bath (large pan filled with enough water to cover half of the cups) and bake until set around the edges, but still loose in the center, about 50 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and leave in the water bath until cooled. Transfer everything to the fridge and chill for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days. When ready to serve, sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of sugar over each custard and place some ice in the water bath. For best results, use a small, hand-held torch to melt sugar but a large butane torch from Lowes will also work :-D.

I have heard that an oven set to broil can also be used to carmelize the sugar but I’m not sure how that will work. I had originally purchased a creme brulee torch for this project however it didn’t pass the Joe test. So I used a not-so-fancy but oh-so-fun butane torch from Lowes. It worked perfectly so the only real issue because how much to brown the sugar. Turns out one of us like it just this side of brown, while the other likes it just slightly golden. Luckily with 4 ramekins we could half one way and half the other. I had one that night and one for breakfast while the birthday boy downed both of us in under 10minutes. Guess I did a good job!

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