3 C. heavy cream
1 C. sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
6 large eggs yolks, chilled
Preheat oven to 300*F. Adjust the rack to the center of the oven. Place six 6-ounce ramekins in a large baking pan, making sure the larger pan is at least 1/2-inch deeper then the ramekins.
Bring the cream, 1/2 C. of the sugar, and vanilla bean and scraped seeds to a simmer in a nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat, cover the pan with a plastic film, and let steep for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, gently whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl.
After steeping, the cream mixture should be at 165*F. Gently whisk it into the egg yolks.
When the cream is incorporated into the egg yolks, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl or large heatproof glass measuring cup. This is the custard base.
Fill each ramekin to the rim with custard. Fill the larger baking pan with hot water until the water rises two thirds of the way up the ramekins. Cover the baking dish loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The custards are done when they are set but have a uniform jiggle.
Chill the custards for at least 2 hours before caramelizing and serving. Creme brulee will keep tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
To serve, you will be coating the top in two thin layers of caramelized sugar. Coat the top of the custard with some of the remaining 1/2 C. sugar in a thin, even layer. Wipe off any sugar that sticks to the rim of the ramekin.
Melt the sugar by moving the flame from a propane or butane torch back and forth across the top of the custard from a height of not less than 8 inches. As soon as it melts and starts to color, dust lightly with a second coating of sugar and continue to melt and caramelize the sugar. Circulate the torch for even coloring.
Within 1 minute, the sugar will begin to melt, bubble, and then turn into golden color. Allow the caramel to cool and harden for 2 minutes before serving.
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