Crème Brûlée Game Changers: Dual Sugar Mix & Gentle Whisking Secrets

Crème Brûlée

Serves 4

Ingredients:

– 375 ml (12.68 fl oz) cream

– 125 ml (4.23 fl oz) milk 

– 1 vanilla bean, split

– 5 tbsp 75 g (2.65 oz) of caster sugar

– 25g (0.88 oz) of powdered sugar

– 5 large egg yolks

– Topping: 41/2 tsp caster sugar & 21/2 tsp brown sugar (combined)

Method

  • Preheat oven to 110°C (230°F)
  • Split the vanilla bean in half, scrape out the seeds, and add both the seeds and bean to a small pot with the cream and milk.
  • Place the pot over medium heat.
  • As soon as the cream bubbles around the edges, promptly remove it from the heat and set aside.
  • Gently whisk egg yolks and both caster & powdered sugars together. The goal is to blend them smoothly without incorporating air. Think of it more as stirring with a whisk rather than actual whisking.
  • Remove and discard the vanilla bean from the cream and discard.
  • Pour a ladleful of the warm cream into the egg yolk mixture, stirring continuously to blend them smoothly.
  • Now slowly add the remaining hot cream, stirring the mixture gently to avoid creating foam.
  • Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a jug to make pouring it into the ramekins easier.
  • Place your ramekins, ideally 150-200ml (5-6oz) in size, in a deep ovenproof dish or baking tray. Then, fill each ramekin about three-quarters full with the brûlée mix.
  • Carefully pour hot to almost boiling water into the baking dish until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  • Place ramekins in a water bath and bake. The baking time for your crème brûlée at 110°C (230°F) is typically 90-120 minutes depending on your ramekin size. Begin checking at 90 minutes; the custard should be set at the edges but slightly wobbly in the center. It will firm up as it cools. (To speed up cooking your Crème Brûlée to just 60 minutes, you can adjust the oven temperature to 130°C (266°F). This higher temperature will help set the custard more quickly without compromising its creamy texture).
  • Cool to room temperature, then chill for 4 hours or overnight.
  • Top with sugar and caramelise with a blow torch before serving. When caramelising the sugar topping, ensure the sugar layer is thin and even. A thick layer of sugar can be hard to caramelise evenly and might be too hard to break with a spoon.

Garnish:

– Fresh raspberries or rose petals.

Simon’s Pro Tips

For crème brûlée, the best ramekins: are shallow and wide, typically made from ceramic or porcelain. This style ensures even cooking, provides a large surface area for caramelizing the sugar, and makes for an attractive presentation. Ideal capacity is between 150-200ml (5-6 ounces) for individual servings.

Infusing the Cream: Let the cream sit with the vanilla bean for an hour or overnight to deepen the vanilla flavour in your dessert.

Why Gently Whisk Egg Yolks and Sugar? Whisking too vigorously can introduce air into the custard, leading to bubbles and an uneven top or texture. Gently blending ensures a smooth custard.

Mixing Two Different Sugars in Custard: Using both caster and powdered sugar in the custard ensures a smooth and even texture.

Egg Quality: I used ‘true’ pasture-raised eggs for their health benefits, as they often contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins compared to regular eggs.

Cooking at Lower Temperature: Most crème brûlée recipes suggest 150°C to 160°C (300°F to 325°F), but this recipe uses 100°C (210°F) to reduce the risk of curdling, resulting in smoother and silkier custard. To speed up cooking your Crème Brûlée to just 60 minutes, you can adjust the oven temperature to 130°C (266°F). This higher temperature will help set the custard more quickly without compromising its creamy texture.

Checking for Doneness: Oven temperatures can vary. The custard should be set around the edges but slightly jiggling in the center. A knife inserted near the edge should come out mostly clean.

Water Bath Technique: When pouring boiling water into the baking dish for the water bath, place the baking dish with ramekins in the oven first and then pour the water. This reduces the risk of splashing water into the custard or burning yourself.

Stabilizing Ramekins: Place a layer or three of paper towels under the ramekins in the baking dish for stability when moving them in and out of the oven.

Chilling the Custard: If possible, leave the custard to chill overnight for matured flavours and perfectly set texture.

Advance Preparation: The custard can be prepared and baked up to 2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Two Sugars for Caramelising: Use caster sugar for a fine, delicate layer that caramelises well and brown sugar for a molasses flavour, creating a deeper, more complex taste.

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