Thursday, January 11, 2007

Crème Brûlée

This recipe is from my friend Sharon, an honest-to-goodness pastry chef. Scenting it with almond or hazelnut liquor and cooking it at a low temperature presents you with a subtle, delicate, creamy custard.

Gorgeous and creative, instead of making desserts, Sharon now makes hats. She only drinks sparkling wine, so you often drink Champagne when you’re with her.

A Hat Made by Sharon
We both make this in little white custard cups, which we bought together in a restaurant supply store on The Bowery. They are deep like pots de crémes, only larger with vertical flutes, not flat like little quiche dishes.

Crème Brûlée
From Sharon

Serves 6

This recipe can successfully be cut in half.

1 quart heavy cream
10 eggs yolks at room temperature
⅔ cups granulated white sugar
1 vanilla bean
⅓ cup liqueur - either Amaretto (almond flavor, Luxardo brand preferred) or Frangelico (hazelnut flavor, my favorite)

Preheat the oven to 250°F.

Beat the egg yolks. Mix the ⅔ cup sugar into them.

Put the cream and the vanilla bean in a pot, and bring just to the boil. Pour the cream s-l-o-w-l-y into the yolk/sugar mixture, STIRRING CONSTANTLY. Add the liqueur.

Strain everything through a fine sieve, and skim the top. Fill the custard cups.

Arrange the custard cups in a bain marie, which means arranging the cups in a baking dish and adding enough warm water to the baking dish to reach halfway up the sides of the cups. I bring water to the boil in my kettle and carefully pour it into the pan.

Bake for 2 hours in the preheated 250°F oven.

When the custards are done, cool to room temperature, sprinkle the tops with light brown sugar, and caramelize with a small culinary blowtorch, being careful not to blister the top of the cream.

Chill before serving.

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