Friday, 20 July 2012

ITTP Prague TEFL: Creme Brulee

(Click on photo to enlarge)
For me, Creme Brulee is THE quintessential French dessert, and yet ironically at the same time holds claims of origin from both Catalan and Cambridge - in Catalan the dish is named Crema Catalana, and the English version is so named Trinity Cream or Cambridge burnt cream. If the pudding did have its origins in either Cambridge or the Northern reach of Spain then there can be no doubt that it is the French who have perfected this dish. One word of warning though: Creme Brulee is a bit of a pain in the posterior to actually make because it is time consuming, you need 'special equipment' and it is difficult to find the right cream here in the Czech Republic. Still though, if you are willing to hunt around for the right cream and invest in a blowtorch and a bunch of ramekins, then the following recipe is a tried and tested Creme Brulee hit wonder.

8 egg yolks
Half a cup of white sugar
2 cups of heavy cream (ideally 40% fat content)
1 vanilla pod
Additional sugar for the glazing (Brulee)


Preheat your oven to around 120 degrees Celcius (approx 250°F).  Please note that ovens vary in performance. I used a fan assisted oven and 45 minutes worked perfectly.
Pour the half cup of sugar into the egg yolks and beat until the sugar is incorporated into the eggs and the mixture is smooth.  
Place the cream into a separate pan and heat gently until almost boiling (you don't want the cream to actually boil because this will scald the cream). 

We used cream which we brought back from our Lyon trip (Click on photo to enlarge)

Add the cream to the egg yolks and sugar mixture one tablespoon at a time while stirring vigorously (this will temper the eggs so as to not curdle them when exposed to the heat of the cream). 
When about a quarter of a cup of cream has been integrated into the yolks and sugar mixture, pour the yolks mixture completely into the cream and mix until smooth. 

Cream, egg yolks, sugar mixture with the vanilla pod (Click on photo to enlarge)

At this stage take the pot off the heat, scrape out the inside of the vanilla pod and stir in this and the vanilla pod shell to the pot (cover the pot with the lid). After 15 minutes take out the pod shell and give the pot another stir.
Pour the mixture into your ramekins (I used 4 large ones but if you have smaller ones then they will work just as fine). 

Ramekins in the oven, with water filled halfway up sides  (Click on photo to enlarge)

Place the ramekins in a baking pan. Pour boiling water into the pan (making sure not to get water into the ramekins), so that the water level fills halfway up the sides of the ramekins. 
Place in your oven and cook for about 45 minutes.
After the 45 minutes are up you need to take out your ramekins (leaving the creme brulee in of course), and place on a cooling rack until cooled.

Ramekin covered with clingfilm (Click on photo to enlarge)

Next, cover each ramekin with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for at least 8 hours before serving.
About an hour before serving take the ramekins out of the fridge, remove the clingfilm and leave them to settle on your kitchen table.

Ramekins covered with a thin layer of sugar (Click on photo to enlarge)

Pour about a teaspoon of the sugar onto each ramekin and holding the ramekin at an angle shuffle the ramekin around in your hand so that the whole of the top of the creme brulee mixture is covered with a thin layer of the sugar.

The fun part with the blowtorch :-) (Click on photo to enlarge)

Take your blowtorch (your 'special equipment') and evenly glaze your creme brulees tops.

The best part :-) (Click on photo to enlarge)

Place ramekins in the fridge to cool for 45 minutes and then serve and eat :-)

Preparation Tip:

If you don't have a blowtorch you can also use your oven grill for that desired brulee texture.

Pimp it up:

The way to go regarding pimping this dish up is by adding a little bit of Grand Marnier liquer to the mixture instead of the vanilla pods (or you could simply keep the vanilla pods and add after taking them out). This would definitely take your creme brulee to another dimension.

Hope it helps!

Dobrou chut!/Bon appetit!

Neville :-)