Crème brûlée, or burnt cream, was invented in Trinity College, Cambridge and is just about the most decadent, gorgeous pudding I can imagine. Smooth, vanilla custard and taut, crisp caramel – what a beautiful marriage.
Josh had bought me a blowtorch for my birthday and so I put it to perfect use when making these Crème brûlées for his birthday meal dessert. The recipe, another Good Food recipe, makes 2 – 3 servings and will be ready in about an hour and a half. If you have the willpower make them the night before and ensure the custards are fully chilled, then prepare to have your socks blown off.
*215ml double cream *50ml full fat milk *1/2 vanilla pod *3 egg yolks *25g caster sugar – and extra for the topping.
1. Preheat the oven to fan 160Oc/conventional 180Oc and sit your ramekins in a deep roasting tin.
2. Pour the cream into a medium pan with the milk. Lay the vanilla pod on a chopping board and slice lengthways through the middle with a sharp knife to split into two. Scrape out the tiny seeds into the cream mixture. Drop the vanilla pod in as well. Put the pan over a medium heat and bring almost to the boil, as soon as you see bubbles appear around the edge of the pan take it off the heat.
3. Meanwhile, put the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk for 1 minute with an electric whisk until pale in colour and a bit fluffy.
4. Pour the hot cream into the beaten egg yolks, stirring with a wire whisk as you do so, scraping out the seeds from the pan. Set a fine sieve over a large jug or bowl and pour the hot mixture through to strain it, encouraging any stray vanilla seeds through at the end. Using a big spoon scrape off all the pale foam and discard, stir the mixture.
5. Pour enough hot water into the roasting tin to come up about 1.5cm up the sides of the ramekins. Fill the ramekins right up to the top. Pop in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until the mixture is softly set. To check, sway the tin and if the Crème brûlées wobble a bit like jelly in the middle that’s great. Don’t let them go firm.
6. When done, lift the ramekins out of the roasting tin with oven gloves and set on a wire rack to cool for a couple of minutes before popping them in the fridge, until completely cool. Either for an hour or so or overnight.
7. When ready to serve, sprinkle caster sugar over each ramekin and spread out with fingertips or the back of a spoon. Spray a fine mist of water over the top to slightly dampen the sugar and then use a blowtorch to caramelise it. Hold the flame just above the sugar and burn all of the sugar until it bubbles and goes dark. Pop in the fridge again to go firm, within an hour or so. Enjoy.