Crème brûlée has been one of my favorite dessert since I was first served it in a restaurant many years ago. I love the slight crunch of the sweet caramelized sugar as it touches my tongue. Followed by the slightly sweet and creamy custard that finishes off the explosion of flavors. How can you not love a dessert that was featured in a cookbook published in 1691? French chef François Massialot who published the cookbook worked in the royal kitchens. Crème brûlée was one of the featured desserts in the world’s first alphabetical recipe listed cookbook titled, Le Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeoise (article). I bow to chef Massialot for sharing this wonderfully tasty, yet easy to make dessert. Instead of cake on my birthday I set out on a mission to make the perfect dessert: Crème brûlée.
Put the oven at 325° F (160° C) and as the oven preheats you can start making the custard for baking. First put the heavy cream with the vanilla on the stove on low heat. There is no need to stir it, but you don’t want the cream to boil over, so keep a close eye on the cream. You will know it’s ready when there is a thin skin formed over the cream. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together with a whisk. By this time the cream should be ready to pour in. This is where you need to be careful because the heated cream poured in too fast can result in cooking the eggs. This is what you don’t want to happen. You’ll want to pour only a small amount in as you continue to whisk. This in the cooking world is called, tempering. The pouring of cream slowly and continual whisking helps the cream’s heat to disperse evenly. When you’ve poured all the cream in you will have a creamy pale yellow liquid.
Now comes the fun part! Get a cake pan to put the ramekins in and distribute the custard evenly. If there are bubbles in the batter just use the torch heat to lightly go over it and the bubbles will disappear. You don’t want air bubbles in your crème brûlée. The bubbles will cause the custard cook unevenly or may come out runny. Another thing that helps the custards cook nicely is another cooking term called, a “water bath“, which means that the food cooking needs a moist cooking environment. Pour water into the cake pan about half way up the ramekins. Carefully transport the pan to the oven (make sure that water does not get into the ramekins) and cook custard for around 30 to 40 minutes or until the custard has a wobbly feel (like jello) when you shake the ramekins a little. If all is well let custard cool for another hour, or for a faster cool down you can put the ramekins in the refrigerator.
Once the custard has cooled sprinkle the brown sugar on top evenly (add more sugar to caramelize of you prefer a thicker crust). Then take the torch and move over sugar lightly in a sweeping motion. You will be able to see (and smell) the sugar caramelizing. After running the torch over once wait about 2 or 3 minutes before torching the sugar again. The rest time in between torching gives the sugar time to harden (that’s the yummy part). Let the dessert sit for another 15 minutes. You will know it’s ready to eat because when you tap the caramelized sugar with the flat of the spoon it will be hard but brittle.
So now that it’s all done dig in and enjoy that wonderful taste first introduced in a French Royal court. Bon Appétit.
For those who need a visual this youtube video really helped me.
Masterpieces are not hard to find. It’s just that we need to slow down enough to appreciate them. My favorite part about Europe is how much they love to display their art around the city. You could stroll down a small residential alley way just to find a masterpiece when rounding the corner.
Wow, it’s been almost eight months since I last blogged about our landing on American soil. So much has happened since then I hardly know where to start the telling. My family and I have come a long way since that night we stumbled sleepily towards our hotel room and waiting beds.
So, this is Texas, our final destination and my family and I are smack dab in the middle of it all. When we first heard we were heading to Texas none of us thought we would ever get used to it. Texas is certainly a far cry from the European lifestyle of outdoor café bistros we are used to patronizing. However, Texas has a lifestyle of its own. Its beauty is reflected in its people’s love for their state as well as appreciation of the bounties the land itself delivers. While I contemplated the heat index that I would have to endure I tried to make as many trips out to explore during the cooler months.
During a night out with friends my husband and I had the opportunity to experience South by Southwest. South by Southwest (aka SXSW to locals and fans) is a festival that concentrates on promoting films, music, and interactive connections with the people who attend it. The night was fun and full of sights and sounds from celebrity sightings, street musicians, and television networks promoting new shows. IT was an entertaining and fun night. I look forward to attending SXSW 2014 which is right round the corner as the festival is usually held near the beginning of Spring in the month of March. In 2014 the festival runs from Friday March 7 through Sunday March 16.
Since that night we have discovered that Texas is not just a huge empty desert, but a large community of people who really love where they live. I have really enjoyed visiting the beautiful lakes and parks here. My husband has discovered the sport of fishing which he is finding is not as easy as it may seem. We had a chance to explore the Capitol in Austin. The history and architecture here is just as grand and rich as in Europe. I look forward to discovering more of Texas and the people in it. Now a new journey has begun as I close one chapter to begin another, and rediscover America again. I hope that you will be there discovering it with me.
There is always a time in the day, week, or month when we stop what we’re doing and exhale. In this moment we become more observant and see what we might have missed in our daily lives. I saw this rainbow after waking from a mid-afternoon nap. I woke opening my window to see the rainbow streaked sky. It was a nice view to wake up to, and as I stood there for a few moments more I thought of all the other people who might be seeing the same sight. I wondered what this sight of a rainbow meant to them? What feelings it might evoke. Hope? Beauty? Mythical beings that may or may not exist?
Exhale, but remember to enjoy the next intake of breath then exhale. Each new breath clarifies the mind to enjoy the world around us.