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
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 plant growing on a tree
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
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)
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
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
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
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.
Taste it and tell me, was Homer right or not?