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.

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