I'm taking my first crack at making this in a couple of weeks. Please share any tips/advice that you might have.
You can never get enough of what you don't really need.
It's really not that hard gig. My only tip would be to make sure you have proper ramekins. Because you'll be cooking them in a water bath I've always felt that having a reasonable amount of the brulee (or is it the creme?) submerged in the water makes a big difference. Oh and invest in a proper torch. Long periods of high heat trying to melt the sugar isn't good for something that is supposed to be gelatinous. Let us know how it works out.
Get a very fine mesh strainer (*Very* fine), to strain the custard. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to settle and skim the foam off the top. Then pour into ramekins and bake in a water bath.
Don't pour the water into the bath until the pan is already in the oven. The water only needs to be between 1/2-2/3 the way up the ramekin.
Don't over cook the custard in the oven.
As snipes said, go to a hardware store and get a proper torch. Way cheaper, and the power output is way better than a silly "creme brulee torch."
I agree with the above comments. The water bath is key to prevent the creme brulee from being overcooked.
A couple of notes though: 1)if you don't have a fine strainer, you can always use a cheesecloth. For beginners, one of the challenges is reaching the balance in incorporating the hot milk/creme into the egg mixture. Make sure you mix the egg yolks and sugar really good e.g., it shouldn't have a grainy texture. Then you should temper the mixture by pouring a little bit of the milk/creme at a time, which raises the temperature.
Second if you are using a plumber's torch, you need to move the flame on the sugary surface really quick to prevent burning which is easy to do with that type of torch. It makes sense if you plan on doing lots of creme brulee for guests at a time. If you are just making it for yourself and significant other, then one of those creme brulee torch may make more sense.
Prepare the mass the day before and leave the mass in the fridge overnight, before pouring it into the forms and then in the water bath.
Tip# 2: Use fresh vanilla by all means, not the synthetic sugar stuff.
Here's a highly recommended recipe, unfortunately in german language:Creme Brulee
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Agree--fresh vanilla. Use raw, or turbinado, sugar on top, and make more than you think you might need.
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It's just custard. You can strain it if you want to, but that's not absolutely necessary. You can even cook it w/out the water bath, but watch it closely.
The whole key to making an egg custard, which includes this, flan, cheesecake, quiche, and a number of other dishes, is to make sure you don't overcook the eggs. What you're doing is taking a liquid, adding eggs, and using the eggs to thicken the liquid by cooking and changing their proteins. If you overheat them, they'll just become scrambled eggs in your liquid. Then you'll have egg-drop soup.
So you want to heat the liquid gently and get the eggs to the point that they're cooked, but not overdone. And the trick to doing that is to stop cooking them before they're completely finished cooking, because the heat of the food itself will continue to cook the eggs.
An egg custard is like Mozart - it's perfect in itself when done right, but it's all right there and obvious so if you make a mistake, everyone knows. You don't have a lot of sound and fury to hide it.
So your creme brulee is in a zen-like way, done just before it's done.
As a rule of thumb, if you think it needs just a few more minutes, that's when it's done.
Then you just sprinkle sugar on top and caramelize it fast with your blowtorch.
You can make a creme brulee cheesecake if you want, or vary it some other way - use turkey or duck or some other eggs, use fresh milk or partial goat milk, or make a savory version with some Roquefort or some other cheese, or forgo the milk and use some kind of stock or consommé.
Once you get the principle, it's not a big deal. I hope you're not using some recipe that calls for a quarter teaspoon of this and a teaspoon of that. It's about 2 yolks per cup of liquid. You can vary that somewhat - your creme will be thicker or looser as a result. And you can use the whole egg too - it's a slightly different problem you'll have because you can get stringy whites if you're not careful.
"The best part is how he said the ENGLISH language. Fine irony. Use American next time."
Mine is Creme Drool-eh!
a lot of wine... but.... GregT, be my friend!
lesson learned from an unfortunate experience at a local restaurant:
Put the sugar on top BEFORE you torch it.
I always have a creme brulee for dessert when dining out. A lot of very good kitchens screw this easy dish up, likely because it's best when done simply. I tend to like more brulee than creme so I like the style made in most places in France where you get a shallow dish of custard with a lot of caramelized sugar. My wife and kids like a lot of custard and no brulee so when I make it at home I top it with some berries and leave the torch in the tool box.
My daughter made creme brulee at home the other night. Best ever!!
I prefer a more robust CB than those lighter ones, that said, i use brown sugar and it gives the custard a more butterscotch flavor. I basically reverse engineered something i tried at Delmonico's. I also don't use a water bath....but you have to be really careful using a double broiler.
I recently purchased some dark Muscovado sugar from Mauritius....and will give that a go here soon.
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