Mark loves creme brulee. Years ago, I tried making it at home but was overwhelmed by the quantity the recipe produced. Then I started experimenting with downsizing and discovered that it is incredibly easy. What’s the key? A teeny, tiny pan. It makes two servings in traditional shallow ramekins, or four if you use little tempered glass serving containers. I use heat resistant votive holders. It’s an innovative way to offer bite-sized portions to friends at gatherings.
Creme Brulee Recipe
|WHAT YOU NEED||WHAT TO DO||WHY|
||In a 1-quart mixing bowl, whisk together until loose and frothy (30-60 seconds).||Egg yolks are essential for a rich, smooth custard. Whisking the yolks with a little cream helps eliminate potential lumps.|
||Whisk all together in a 1-quart tri-ply saucepan. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer, where bubbles appear around the pan edges (2-3 minutes); remove from heat. To temper yolks, add hot mixture to the egg mixture in a slow stream while continuously whisking. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan.||Sugar inhibits heat-induced yolk curdling. Preheating cream minimizes the time it takes to heat the yolks, reducing any “eggy” flavor. Tempering heats eggs quickly but gently with little risk of curdling.|
|Return saucepan to medium heat, stirring gently but continuously with a bamboo spoon. As custard thickens, reduce heat to low. Continue stirring until custard coats the spoon and an instant-read thermometer registers 175-180°F (4-5 minutes). Promptly remove from heat.||Holding eggs at 160°F for 1 minute sterilizes them, but overheating risks curdling and extended cooking brings out an unpleasant “eggy” flavor.|
||Stir into the custard. Push through a little mesh strainer into dishes, promptly seal surfaces with squares of plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4-8 hours to age before serving.||Straining ensures a perfectly smooth custard. Sealing with plastic prevents a skin from forming. Aging promotes smoothness in custards.|
||Sift out any lumps. Distribute evenly over custards; shake from side to side to even out the layer.||Areas with a thicker layer of sugar tend to burn more than shallow areas. Brown sugar caramelizes faster but is more inclined to burn.|
|Use a hand-held butane torch in a rapid circular motion to caramelize the sugar into crispy crusts. Be bold, and get the flame close enough so that the sugar caramelizes within 15-20 seconds for votive-sized servings, and 20-30 seconds for traditional servings. The goal is to caramelize the sugar quickly to avoid curdling the custard.||Some recipes recommend using a broiler instead of a torch, but it tends to curdle custards.|
Additional Testing Notes: The egg to liquid ratio is too high in this recipe to use corn starch or other thickeners.