Easy Creme Brulee (without a blow torch)

Whether you like the creamy custard or the crunchy sugar on top, creme brulee is sure an irresistible delicacy, and you maybe surprised how easy it is to make.  Most of us don’t have a blow torch at home, but you don’t need one to make this tasty dessert.  All you need is an oven with the broiler setting.  As for the crunchy sugar on top, after a few experiments, I found that caramelized sugar (recipe below) works the best.  Regular sugar takes longer to brown and may cause the custard to overheat and crack. 

Makes about 4-6 servings

For the custard

  • 2 cups half and half cream or heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • pot of hot water
  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF
  2. Cut and scrape vanilla beans out of bean pod
  3. In a non-stick pot, heat cream, vanilla beans and bean pod over low to medium heat until just starting to boil, stirring occasionally
  4. Remove pot from heat, remove bean pod, let sit for about 15 minutes
  5. Beat egg yolks and sugar until light and pale
  6. Slowly add the cream, a little at a time, stirring continually 
  7. Pour mixture through strainer twice to get a smooth mixture, skim off bubbles on top
  8. Pour mixture into ramekins, place ramekins in baking dish filled with hot water, water should be about halfway up side of ramekins
  9. Bake for about 30 minutes until custard just set
  10. Let cool completely, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight

For the caramelized sugar top

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  1. Place sugar and water in a small non-stick pot over medium heat
  2. Stir slightly until sugar dissolves, after that, do not stir anymore, swirl the pot gently, otherwise crystals will form
  3. Sugar will bubble and change from clear to caramel colour, keep a close eye on it, be careful not to let it burn
  4. Remove from heat, pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  5. Let cool and harden, it will form a sheet of caramel  
  6. Break sheet into small pieces, then pulverize in a food processor or a chopper
  7. Store in dry, air-tight container

When ready to serve

  1. Take custard out from fridge, sprinkle evenly with caramelized sugar
  2. Adjust oven to broiler setting (usually at about 450ºF – 500ºF), place ramekins on top rack, heat until sugar start to brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, do not heat more than 2 minutes, custard may start to crack and melt
  3. Cool slightly and is ready !

 

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