Vanilla Crème Brulee


This recipe is a great "learner's" recipe as it teaches some basics of heat and eggs. "And what is the enemy of eggs? That's right -- heat." If Jill Prescott has impressed upon me anything about the kitchen and cooking, it is this. (To learn more about Jill Prescott and her cooking philosophies, please visit www.ecoledecuisine.com) Pastries are not art. They are cuisine science. Not a hodge-podge of ingredients cooked together at some unknown heat for some unknown time. Let's begin! Ingredients you will need:
  • 2 cups heavy cream- shop around. Look at the ingredients. There should be only one: cream. Look for cream with upwards of 30% more of milk fat. Seaweed juice is not a substitute.
  • 1 Vanilla bean- if you are unable to locate a whole bean, substitute PURE vanilla extract; 2 teaspoons.
  • 4 egg yolks, slightly beaten.
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar.
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of cold, UNSALTED butter, chunked.
  • A double-boiler. If you have not a double-boiler, substitute with one large pan of water and use smaller pots atop.
Instructions:
  1. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, place cream and vanilla bean. Bring to a quick boil, without boiling over, then simmer for five minutes, infusing the Vanilla bean.* Set aside.
  2. Add granulated sugar to egg yolks. With gently simmering water in the double-boiler, whisk together the sugar and egg until it becomes light and fluffy. Constantly whisk and keep the heat low! You're trying to avoid making sweetened, scrambled eggs. If scrambling begins, believe me, scrap it and start again. There is no salvaging at this point.
  3. Place the cream infusion on to the double-boiler. Temper the eggs by slowly adding small spoonfuls to the cream, while constantly whisking. With a wooden spoon, stir the rest of the eggs into the cream and continue stirring until the concoction begins thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. This may take upwards to ten minutes or more.
  4. Finally, place mixture into a glass bowl at room temperature. Immediately add butter, whisking in until completely melted. Store until cooled to room temperature, wrap and chill until needed
*If using the substitute, leave out until final step, then stir in gently.
  • Yields: 12+ servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes
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