Except, that is, when it comes to that most revered of retro desserts, crème brulée. There was a time when I’d judge a restaurant’s entire dessert menu on the simple, satisfying ‘crack’ of the glassy sugar topping and the lovely lush creaminess that I hoped would always follow.
Now you can have that very same deliciousness right in the comfort of your own home, because I’ve broken down a classic recipe into simple steps that will have you in the kitchen in no time.
First things first, a few basics.
Like the name – simply translated from the French, it means ‘burnt cream’. I like to think of it as ‘caramelised cream’ – it makes it a little prettier, don’t you think?
All you need to make a classic crème brulée is cream, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla. And then a little more sugar to caramelise for the must-be-crackable topping. So you see, crème brulée is little more than a baked custard. So what’s all the fuss about?
Why does a stained-glass-like sugar topping suddenly make it one of the most sublime puddings on the planet? That I couldn’t tell you, but here’s how easy it is to go and find out for yourselves…
Cooking methods – 2 different ways
Although most people agree on the ingredients in a crème brulée (though there are of course varying quantities in many recipes), it’s the actual cooking method that is divided into two camps.
Classically, it’s a baked dessert.
1st method: The custard is started off on the stove-top but then finished off in a bain marie (water bath) in the oven.
2nd method: The other route, is simply cooking the custard on the stovetop throughout and then continuing with the usual sugar topping.
Here, I’ve explained both options so you can see which one suits you. I do find though that the baked version gives the most typical crème brulée result, while the stovetop option definitely feels more like just plain custard with a sugary lid. Give them a whirl and let me know what you think.