Sunday, November 9, 2008

Goat Cheese Crème Brûlée

For a little bit of a savory touch, this recipe adds cream cheese from goat to the mix. You can probably follow the basic recipe and simply replace the milk with equal amounts of goat cream cheese. However I modified it slightly as follows, which worked nicely.

  1. Preheat oven to 130C (260F).
  2. Mix 200ml (1 cup) of milk and cream, bring to a boil.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together four eggs, 200ml (1 cup) of sugar and two tablespoons of goat cream cheese until smooth.
  4. Pour egg mixture into cream mixture (remove from heat), stir well, pour everything into 6 ramekins, place in oven for about 25 minutes (remove when setting).
  5. Cool in fridge for 4 hours, remove, caramelize a teaspoon of sugar on each using a kitchen torch (or top heat in the oven)
Goat cheese and dark honey are an excellent combination. Feel free to replace the sugar in or on the creams with honey for an excellent alternative.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Trio of Mini Burnt Creams

During my last trip to a well-known Scandinavian furniture and housewares manufacturer, I brought back with me a set of twelve egg cups. Joyously I noticed they also happen to be heat-resistant and soon the idea was born to use the egg cups to make mini crèmes brûlée. At a recent dinner for four, I finally tried it out, but had to make modifications to my basic recipe for two reasons: (1) the cups and their content, because they are so small, will heat much faster and produce pudding rather than creams and (2) I wanted to make a "trio" so everyone could sample three different flavors, so I decided to add the flavoring only right before heating the cups.

With this in mind, I settled on truffle-honey (because I had some), vanilla (the classic) and Earl Grey (because so far this was the favorite of my own creations). In addition, I used more cream than milk and egg yolks instead of whole eggs. Also, due to the size of the cups, I performed the bain marie on the stove top.

  1. Prepare twelve (12) small heat resistant procelain egg cups as follows. Divide in groups of four. Place a teaspoon of truffle honey in the first four. Place a teaspoon of vanilla sugar or a knives point of vanilla seeds in the second four. Place a pinch of Earl Gray tea leaves in the last four.
  2. Mix 250ml of cream and 125ml of whole milk in a pot, bring to a boil.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk three egg yolks and two tablespoons of sugar in a bowl.
  4. Remove cream mixture from heat. Slowly pour the egg mixture into it, constantly stirring. Let sit for two minutes. Do not let eggs set (keep stirring if necessary).
  5. Fill the twelve egg cups with the egg mixture, stirring each with a small spoon (or the back of one).
  6. Place cups in a circle along the edge of a large pot. Fill with hot water approximately half way up the egg cups. Cover. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat for five minutes or until creams are set. Remove and place in fridge for about an hour.
  7. Remove from fridge right before serving. Spead half a teaspoon of sugar on surface of each egg mixture. Burn using a kitchen torch.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cooking with Maple Syrup

I liked the Maple Syrup Crème Brûlée recipe so much, I tried it again. With disastrous results.
They hadn't come out exactly as hoped the first time. The syrup had caramelized slightly, leaving a skin on top of the creams (our oven is somewhat unpredicable). No biggie - just remove the skin after cooling. But I still tried to avoid this skin-formation the second time around by baking at a lower temperature (120C) and setting the bain marie on a lower the rack in the oven.
This was an awful idea. The syrup and the cream separated in the bath, because the eggs didn't set fast enough this way. In the end we had maple soup with an eggy top. Dessert soup: yummy, but not crème brûlée.

Then I had a bit of a duh-moment. I came across the guidelines for replacing sugar with maple syrup, right on the can:
  1. Use an additional one-quarter of the volume of sugar used
  2. Remove the same amount of liquids (water/milk)
  3. Lower temperature by 15C

This fixed it.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Maple-Lemon Crème Brûlée

This was made possible by Guylaine's recent trip to Canada. Her uncle, who owns a family maple farm, gave her a can of fresh 2008 syrup to take back to Europe. Follow the basic recipe, making the following changes:

  1. Replace the sugar with one-third of a cup of maple syrup and half a pouch (approximately one-third of a teaspoon) of vanilla sugar.
  2. Add zest of half a lemon to milk, strain before pouring into ramekins.
Garnish with strands of lemon or lime zest.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Orange Zest Crème Brûlée

I know I've just written up an orange-blossom crème brûlée with cardamom, but this variant was lovely too, so I thought I'd post it too.
Simply follow this basic recipe with the addition of adding zest of one medium orange to the scalding milk-cream mixture. Allow to infuse an extra minute or two. When stirring the cream in with the eggs use a tea-sieve or strainer to remove the est, unless you are a fan of the bitterness/texture that it lends the creams. If so, you can opt to chop the zest into fine pieces for better distribution.
Garnish with long strings of zest once burnt.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Orange Blossom and Cardamom Crème Brûlée »Arabesque«

I name this one in honor of Greg Malouf's wonderful book »Arabesque«, which reveals a finer side of Middle Eastern cooking than many may be used to from Shawarma, Falafel and Baklava. Key ingredients here are orange-blossom water and cardamom, which find many uses in Middle-Eastern, North-African and South-Asian cuisine. Both should be easy to find in well-stocked supermarkets.
The trick, once again, is the infusion of flavors. Unlike making the tea creams, I chose to mix both the orange-blossom water and the cardamom into the mixture of eggs and sugar, before stirring it into the cream. This creates a more liquid egg mixture, which may require a bit longer in the oven for the eggs to set.
Here is the slightly altered basic recipe:
  1. Preheat oven to 150C/300F.
  2. Mix 200ml/7oz cream and milk each in small pot over medium heat. Heat without boiling and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk three eggs with 200ml/7oz of sugar, one teaspoon of ground cardamom and two tablespoons of orange-blossom water.
  4. Remove cream-milk mixture from heat, slowly stir the whisked eggs into hot milk-cream mixture. Pour mixture into four ramekins.
  5. In a bain marie (an oven tray filled with water half way up the sides of the dishes). Bake creams for 20-30 minutes. Remove when creams begin to set. Refrigerate for at least two hours.
  6. Spread one teaspoon of sugar evenly over each cream, caramelize with a kitchen torch.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Earl Grey Crème Brûlée

Earl Grey flavored dessert recipe have been a recurring theme for me for quite some time. A good friend of ours made a fantastic Earl Grey cake a while back and I've often thought that Earl Grey would make a killer ice-cream flavor. Unfortunately I haven't tried making it yet, in part because we've been wanting to buy the ice-cream maker add-on to our beautiful new kitchen machine.
But then, the inspiration to make an Earl Grey crème brûlée struck and it worked out beautifully, finishing a recent dinner of green curry soup. Basically you'll want to follow the basic recipe and make just two changes: remove the cinnamon and add the tea.
There are several ways to add flavors to a crème brûlée. In this case, since tea best releases its flavors in hot liquids, you'll want to add it to the milk-cream mixture as its hot. Bear in mind, however that tea steeped in boiling water will "burn" and become tart while tea steeped for longer than three to five minutes (depending on the tea) will become bitter, due to high tannin content. This basically means the best time to infuse the cream mixture with the tea flavor is after heating it, before adding the eggs & sugar mixture. Simply shorten the simmering time, letting tea infuse at the end, in a tea bag of course.
I added two teaspoons of an Earl Grey Darjeeling in my recipe, using the quantities of the basic recipe. Since Darjeeling turns bitter rather quickly, I removed it after only three minutes. Using a cheap Earl Grey blend, sometimes characterized by soapy palate and overbearing bergamot flavors, should work fine, though you may want to reduce steeping time even more.

Open question remains, whether this a Crème Brûlée »Jean-Luc Picard« or »Bruce Wayne«. Strong feelings on this one anyone?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Basic Crème Brûlée

This is a basic crème brûlée recipe, that I've found easily reproduces satisfying results in three easy stages: Préparation, Bain Marie and Brûlage (these are my terms, so use with care). I'm also assuming ownership of a kitchen torch for burning the sugar, but the top-heat method - broiling sugar after cooling the creams - can also be employed.
  1. Préparation - Preheat oven to 150C/300F. Mix 200ml/7oz cream and milk each in small pot over medium heat. Add a stick of cinnamon. Heat without boiling and let simmer for 5 minutes. Whisk three eggs with 200ml/7oz of sugar. Remove cream-milk mixture from heat and take out cinnamon. Slowly stir eggs into hot milk-cream mixture.
  2. Bain Marie - Pour mixture into four ramekins in a bain marie (an oven tray filled with water half way up the sides of the dishes). Bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove when creams begin to set. Refrigerate for two hours.
  3. Brûlage - Spread one teaspoon of sugar evenly on surface of cream. Apply flame of burner at a low angle, moving around in small circles. Let sugar dissolve and start boiling briefly, but move away quickly to adjacent areas to avoid blackening.
Depending on the type of ramekin that you make the creams in, you will need to vary the time they spend in the oven. There are two types of common crème brûlée dishes: deep dishes (the ones normally with ridges in the side) and shallow ones (sometimes with little handles). Deeper ones will need longer for the cream to set. Also, you want to take care not to fill the bain marie too much when using shallow ones, to avoid spillage, which will make the creams watery.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Crispy Crust, Creamy Delights

This blog is dedicated to the goodness that is crème brûlée. Watching sugar turn to liquid, then smelling it caramelize. Breaking through the sugary crust with the back of a spoon, knowing what waits underneath. Anyone who doesn't count this procedure among the most gleeful moments in food and one of the finest ways to finish a meal must not have tried it yet, and will hopefully find this blog as an inspiration.
My personal impetus for writing this blog was receiving a Küchenprofi burneras a birthday gift from my girlfriend. While a big fan of the dish before owning such a tool, this gift set me off on a series of experiments, at least some of which I feel compelled to share.
Few dishes - desserts and otherwise - are both so simple a classic and an endless potential of new flavors and textures at the same time. Try adding a bit of crunch to the crème or give it new flavoring before letting it cool. Or replace the traditional sugar with honey. The list of potential flavors to play with is endless: orange, cinnamon, anise, tea, cardamon, lime, mint, ginger...
Crème brûlée, we think a child of staple French cuisine, has, of course, regional cousins and distant relatives, such as Spanish crema catalana, Portuguese Pastéis de nata, all sorts of flan or even English custard tart. And it's origins are far from clear. With such history and family, there should be no end to manifold moments of delight.
Happy breaking of the crust!