Tag Archives: creme brulee

The Simpsons – Season 19 – Episode 5

17 Jun

Treehouse of Horror XVIII (19.5)

Marge: [holds up a large sword covered in blood] I just can’t get Russian gangster blood out! Must be something they eat.

(Marge opens oven)
Homer:
Cremebrulé, Crembrulé, or in English, burnt cream, burnt cream.

Homer is right, after all Crème Brülêe is nothing more than baked cream with burnt sugar topping.  Have you tried it?  If yes, than you know why Homer was so excited.  If not, don’t wait any further.  Just follow the recipe below.

As a matter of fact you can find literally thousands of different Crème Brülêe recipes on the Internet.  The one I use has one advantage, it never failed (100%  success from the first try).

Although the origins of Crème Brülêe are unknown, it seems to have been developed in France during the XVIIth century.  It has also been called “crème anglaise”, “trinity cream”, “cambridge cream”, “crema catalana”, all of them with small variations of the general recipe.

Enough of blah, blah, blah….Let’s cook.

Bring  to boil about 600 ml of heavy cream in a large pot to which a previously opened vanilla bean was added. Don’t forget to empty the insides of the bean with the tip of a knife and throw the removed seeds into the cream.

Removing the seeds of a vanilla bean

Removing the seeds of a vanilla bean

Vanilla, which means “little pod” is the product of an orchid of the genus Vanilla, originally found in Central America.

A Vanilla flower

A Vanilla flower

A Vanilla plant growing on a tree

A Vanilla plant growing on a tree

A Vanilla pod, still attached to the plant

A Vanilla pod, still attached to the plant

In Brazil, where cream presents large variations from one area to another, I usually employ about 500 ml of what we call “creme de leite fresco” (fresh milk cream) or “nata” mixed with 200 ml of milk.

While the cream is heating add 5 table spoons of white sugar to 10 egg yolks and whisk until pale (sometimes, if the eggs are really large ones, I employ only 08 egg yolks).

Egg yolks and sugar - whisk them while the cream is being heated

Egg yolks and sugar - whisk them while the cream is being heated

Whisked egg yolks

Whisked egg yolks - Observe the much lighter yellow color

When the cream is starting to boil remove it from the fire and slowly (very slowly, as we don’t want to end up with an omelet) add it to the egg yolks. Whisk gently and continuously. Don’t forget to remove the vanilla pod.

Adding the boiled cream to the whisked egg yolks (my wife took the picture, as I have both hands busy)

Adding the boiled cream to the whisked egg yolks (my wife took the picture, as I have both hands busy)

Preheat the oven to around 180 oC (about 350 oF). Pour the mixture into ramekins (the size is up to you) and place them in bain-marie in the oven. The water of the bain-marie should reach around halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Ready to go to the oven

Ready to go to the oven

Cook for about 40-45 min (depends on the volume of the ramekins), or until the top is firm and starting to get a little brown color (I usually like to turn the heat up a bit by the end of the cooking time).

Ready to be taken out of the oven

Ready to be taken out of the oven

Remove the ramekins and let them cool down four a few minutes and then put them in the fridge. I prefer to eat them on the next day.

Now, the final touch.  As man is usually quite impressed by the vision of live fire, probably something imprinted in our brains from the most ancient times, you can amaze your friends by doing this next step at the table, right before serving your masterpiece (don’t forget to practice a little bit before trying to show off ;-0).

Evenly sprinkle about 1 tea spoon of sugar over the surface. Make sure you’ve got an even sugar layer. Light up a propane or butane culinary torch and caramelize the sugar.

Starting to caramelize the sugar with a torch

Starting to caramelize the sugar with a torch

Try to make it dark brown, and not black. So, be careful not to burn the sugar. It helps if you keep the torch still and turn the ramekins slowly around.  It may be a bit tricky in the beginning, but I’m sure you can do it perfectly after a couple of tries. As I said, its easier if the sugar layer is even and not too thick. As it cools down it should be brittle, producing a cracking sound when broken.

Bon appetit!!!

Bon appetit!!!

Taste it and tell me, was Homer right or not?

Creme Brulee on Foodista

A French Brasserie in New York City

9 Jun

As I’ve already stated, Anthony Bourdain is one of my favorite chefs. This may seem a bit strange (it does to me), as I’ve never tasted his food. The question is, I like his unique style, his loose mouth, which I came to know after reading his best seller “Kitchen Confidential” and watching several of his TV shows.

Anthony Bourdain - Les Halles - Kitchen Confidential

Anthony Bourdain - Les Halles - Kitchen Confidential

So, no wonder that when in New York City I had to visit “Les Halles” (411, Park Av. South – GPS: 40.743542 Lat N, 73.983865 Long W ). Not that I had any hopes of meeting him there, but the place has his seal, as he worked there for quite a few years (in fact he grew up professionally at this place). I’ve found several reviews on the net regarding this restaurant, which has been labelled from “fantastic” to “complete trash”. In my modest opinion none of this extremes are correct.

The decoration is that of a French style brasserie. In a Saturday, at lunch time, the place was crowded and rather loud. The service was perfect, as the waiter was pretty friendly and neither the food, nor the bill, took long to arrive.

I ordered “smoked pork loin, veal sausage, frankfurter, smoked pork breast, boiled potatoes, sauerkraut braised in Pinot d’Alsace” (Choucrout Garni), while most of my party (we were a group of 5) decided not to adventure and took the traditional “Steak, Frites, Salade” (as a matter of fact, this is what Les Halles is better known for). The meats were all cooked to the right point and the sauces pretty good. Thus, although nothing was really fantastic, no complains either.

For desert, Crème Brülêe, caramelized to perfection and producing the typical cracking sound.

Les Halles - Crème Brülêe

Les Halles - Crème Brülêe

We spent around US$ 50,00/person, what is a bit expensive for a middle class Brazilian, although not particularly high in New York City. Overall it was a nice experience, which I might repeat, if I happen to visit the Big Apple again.

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