Crème Brûlée

Apparently eating a bowl of custard for dessert isn’t seen as socially acceptable behaviour. I was as shocked as you when I found out!

But there is a loophole! Top with sugar, caramelise to a golden crisp shell and you have yourself a decadent, sophisticated dessert, acceptable anywhere from the dinner table to a 3 Michelin star restaurant!

Crème brûlée is a popular French dessert, though the history of the dish is not so clear cut, with the English, French and Catalans all throwing their hats into the ring for its creation! Regardless of it’s origin it is a fantastic dessert; with a base of rich custard armoured with hard golden caramel on top. Who doesn’t love breaking that caramel with the back of a spoon and hearing that *crack*, revealing the smooth, rich, unctuous vanilla flavoured custard between the sweet shards.

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What’s The Secret?

The trick to the perfect crème brûlée is a silky smooth, luscious custard. We are going to thicken the custard very gently, at a low temperature, in a bain marie to help protect the custard from the heat of the oven. We want to just set the custard, so we have to keep the temperature of the custard below 84ºC, any higher and we risk curdling the custard, resulting in a pot of sweet scrambled egg, the prospect of which is far less appetising!

The classic crème brûlée is made with just cream, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla pods but I like to use a mixture of milk and double cream to achieve the same richness without the heaviness that comes with just using double cream. I top it all off with a mixture of brown and white sugar, blowtorched to a golden glass-like finish, just begging to be shattered!

Don’t let the fact that Crème brûlée translates to “Burnt Cream” this woefully undersells this dessert. Treat your friends to an acceptable bowl of custard for dessert! Give it a try, they’re easy to make so there is no excuse not to!

— Al Brady