Creme brulee or Creme caramel?
I cannot stand creme caramel. I dont like the texture at all and, although I normally like caramel, do not like the it with this. I suppose it is true to say that I find absolutely nothing in its favour. .
Whereas, creme brulee is a thing of joy when made well. It's a dessert I think always better made by a professional kitchen than at home. I particularly enjoy it when the chefs put a layer of seasonal fruit in the base of the ramekin. In the UK, early forced rhubarb is often found as the fruit base - and we often call the dessert, unsurprisingly, "burnt cream". .
PBS Cooking Show Host Daisy Martinez introduced me to a great easy Creme Caramel Recipe:
I usually add 1/4 cup to the sugar before melting -- if you do this, do not stir the sugar after it has turned into a syrup. If you stir, it will lower the temperature and the syrup will crystalize. Sometimes I add a bit of orange zest to the custard. And from my experience, the baking time is 45-50 minutes, not 35 minutes as stated in the recipe.
re: Norm Man
I used this exact recipe for New Years, subbing sour cream for crema media, doubled it, baked it in a ring mold in a water bath, and it was superb. I mean superb. It was rich and creamy with a nice light tang from the sour cream. I didn't bother with the blender use recommendations, just whisked by hand. The creme went together in 5 minutes, caramelizing the sugar took 20 minutes or so.
Baked a double batch in a ring mold for 45 minutes until just a wee bit jiggly in the center.
I did not stir the sugar until it was almost completely caramelized, didn't add any water to the sugar, and got a lovely sauce.
On another note, creme brulee is easier but just as wonderful, especially with fresh raspberries baked in.
I do have recipes for both, but I'll have to hunt them down. In the meantime, here's a recipe for an absolutely delicious chocolate creme brulee - not classic but really really good. I use a hardware store blowtorch to do the top, but you can do them under the broiler if you want.
Chocolate Creme Brulee
2 cups whipping cream
1 tbsp. vanilla
3 oz. good semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 egg yolks
6 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
Pour the whipping cream into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat immediately and stir in the chocolate and vanilla. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is completely smooth. Set aside for a few minutes.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Slowly add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture, whisking until evenly combined and smooth. Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes – or until just warm.
Preheat the oven to 300o F. Arrange six 1/2-cup soufflé dishes (or other smallish ramekins or custard cups – don’t grease) in a baking pan large enough to hold them all, with room between them.
Spoon the chocolate custard into the prepared soufflé dishes, dividing the mixture equally among them. Pour enough hot (not boiling) water into the outer baking pan to come about halfway up the sides of the soufflé dishes. Place in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the custard is just set – it will still be fairly soft, but no longer liquid. Remove to a rack and let cool completely, then chill in the refrigerator until just before you’re ready to serve. (You can do this several hours or up to one day ahead, if you want.)
When ready to serve, preheat the broiler element of the oven to the highest heat setting. Place the oven rack as close to the element as possible. (Obviously skip this if you're using a blowtorch.)
Stir together the brown sugar and granulated sugar for the topping. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over chocolate custard in the six soufflé dishes. Arrange the soufflé dishes on a baking sheet (so that they can be more easily handled) and place under the preheated broiler for 1 to 2 minutes or just until the sugar topping melts and begins to bubble. Remove from oven and let cool for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.
If you're torching the custards, light the blowtorch and heat the sugar slowly and evenly until it melts. Do one at a time - let sit for a minute or two before serving to harden.
Makes 6 servings.
Here's my standard creme caramel recipe. Except for melting the sugar, which can be a bit tricky, it's easy enough for a child to make. You can - yes, you can - make this with all milk rather than the milk/cream mixture if you want a lighter version. It's not quite as luscious, but it's still pretty damn good.
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. water
1-1/2 cups milk
1- cup milk whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, split (or 1 tsp.vanilla extract)
In a small heavy saucepan, cook 1/2 cup of the sugar with the water over medium heat, stirring constantly until golden and syrupy. Don't try to hurry this process because sugar can burn easily. Once it turns golden, remove the pan from the heat, let it cool for just a minute, and then pour evenly into 6 half-cup glass or pottery custard cups, rotating the cups slightly to coat a little up the sides. Set these aside. The sugar will harden.
In a saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Add the vanilla bean, scraping the seeds out. Heat this mixture over low heat until hot but not boiling. Let sit for a few minutes to let the vanilla bean infuse into the milk/cream. (If you’re using vanilla extract, just heat the milk and cream together until hot.)
Beat the eggs with the remaining 1/4 cup of the sugar. Slowly add the hot milk/cream, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. (Add the vanilla extract now if you’re using it.) Fish out the vanilla pod if you’re using a bean.
Pour the mixture into the caramel-lined custard cups. Set these custard cups into a baking pan large enough to hold them all, and pour enough boiling water into the pan to have it come about halfway up the sides of the cups. Put the entire pan (water and custard cups and all) into the oven, and bake at 350º F for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a knife poked into the middle of one of the cups comes out clean.
Cool your crème caramels to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least several hours, or, preferably, overnight. The refrigeration time allows the caramel coating to dissolve slightly, which forms the sauce for the custards. When you are ready to serve, run a thin knife around the edge of each custard to loosen it from its cup, then unmold each one onto a plate, and pour the sauce around it.
Makes 6 servings.