Crème Brûlée

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Crème Brûlée is a delicious rich custard base dessert is topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. The French, along with the Spaniards and the English debate over its origins, each arguing that it originated from their respective countries. 


Spaniards – or more particularly the Catalans – have indeed got a dessert called “crema catalana” to which they claim is the predecessor of France’s crème brûlée.
As for the British, they claim that a version of crème brûlée (the ‘Trinity Cream’ originated from  Trinity College, Cambridge in 1879.
However, the French can boast in having the oldest historic reference of crème brûlée, dating back to 1691. The recipe was written in a book by François Massialot, the King’s cook.
So whether it is really French, English or Catalan, we can only be happy that someone in Old Europe invented this delicious dessert!


Ingredients

Makes 6

  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 375ml double cream
  • demerara sugar for the tops

Method

  • Put the cream in a saucepan with the seeds from the vanilla bean (discard the bean).
  • Heat the cream to a very gentle simmer but do not boil then remove from the heat.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oven to 160℃ (lower if a fan assisted oven).
  • In a heat-proof mixing bowl whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar until and pale and fluffy. Stir in the cream and mix together well.
  • Make a bain-marie by putting the mixing bowl over a saucepan of simmering water on the stove and stir the mixture till it thickens and coats th back of a spoon. This should take about 7-9 minutes.
  • Pour the custard into individual ramekins and place in a roasting tin. Pour water to come just over half way up the ramekins. Place in the oven and cook the custard mixture for 15-20 minutes until they are firm on the outside but still give a little in the middle when jiggled. Place in the fridge overnight.
  • Up to 1 hour before eating, or just before serving, sprinkle 2 tsp of demerara sugar on each dessert and use a blow torch or hot grill to caramelise the top. If you use a grill you might want to do this in advance and return to the fridge to cool, however if using a blow torch this can easily be done just before serving.

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