~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee.... I have never attempted making creme brulee. I guess I was afraid of having the creme curdle on me. But on my recent trip to Paris, I bought some good quality vanilla beans that I found at Hediard . I wanted to put it to good use... and what better way than trying to do a creme brulee.

Many creme brulee recipes require a great deal of egg yolks and I wanted a recipe that didn't involve the use of too many egg yolks. The Williams and Sonoma version seemed like it would work. It only required 4 egg yolks. I decide to halve the recipe, since I didn't want to make too much. Plus, I only had 1 cup of cream in the house.

A family at our church provides us with farm fresh eggs. The egg yolks tend to be a bit richer in color. So, that is what I used for this recipe. If you are making this for a bigger group, I suggest using the whole amounts listed in the original recipe. The result was what I had hoped it would be... no curdling ... creamy and smooth as can be! The creme brulee was so easy to make and delicious. You can definitely taste the vanilla!

Since I didn't have a blow torch, I ended up using the broiler for the sugar topping. But really, I would recommend the blow torch if you have one. The sugar gets caramelized much better. I topped the creme brulees with a few raspberries that were dusted with some sugar. But, you can easily use some blueberries or serve them plain.

This is such an elegant dinner dessert. My husband and I both loved the espresso we had in Paris, so I came up with the idea of serving the creme brulee in espresso cups. It brought back great memories. Hope you enjoy...

You will need: adapted from Williams and Sonoma . This will make 4 espresso cups and 1 small 3 inch ramekin...you can easily double it!

1 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
2 TBS sugar( since I halved it...originally the recipe asked for 1/4 cup=4TBS)
1 tsp. Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract, or 1/2 vanilla bean (I like vanilla so I didn't halve it)
4 tsp. fine raw sugar or granulated sugar for caramelizing

1. Preheat oven to 300° F and have a pot of hot water ready.
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cream and ¼ cup sugar(I also add the vanilla pod); cook, stirring, until steam rises, 4-5 minutes.
3. In a bowl, beat egg yolks and vanilla extract(or scraped vanilla seeds from pod) until blended.

4. Gradually pour hot cream into yolks, stirring constantly.
5. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl, divide among espresso cups/ramekins.
6. Line a 3" deep baking pan with a clean kitchen towel(I skipped this and it worked just as well), place espresso cups/ramekins in pan, and add hot water to fill pan halfway up the side of the ramekins.
7. Cover loosely with foil. Bake until set, 30-35 minutes, until the centers of the custards shake gently when the pan is shifted(you don't want them to be watery). I noticed that my espresso cups needed more time(5 -10 minutes) since they were taller than the ramekins.
8. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the ramekins to cool slightly.
9. Remove the ramekins from the pan, cool to room temperature, then chill thoroughly 3 hours or overnight.
10. Just before serving, sprinkle the custards with 2 tsp. sugar and caramelize the topping with a kitchen torch, or place the ramekins under a broiler, 2-3 inches from the heat source for 3-4 minutes. Watch carefully.
11. Sprinkle some berries with granulated sugar and place on top just before serving.

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