Crème Brûlée is a great dessert to make if you’re cooking for a lot of people and want to get something done in advance – the mixture needs to set and so it is actually better to start the day before. This means less stress on the day and an impressive pudding for your friends and family. I used the Leith’s recipe for guidance (it is very easy for this recipe to go wrong!) – it’s better to take a bit more time on each stage to ensure you’re doing everything correctly rather than having to start the whole thing again. The original recipe calls for 1tbsp of caster sugar – I would have preferred the Crème Brûlée to be a bit sweeter, so take this into account and add more if you have a sweet tooth! This recipe is to serve four – we made more on the day which is why the quantities may look a bit generous.
290ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon caster sugar
Extra caster sugar for the topping
1. Put the cream and the vanilla pod into a saucepan and heat to a scalding point (just below boiling point) – do not allow it to boil. Leave to infuse for ten minutes and then remove the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the cream. 2. Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas mark 3. Beat the egg yolks (remember to separate the eggs!) with the sugar (this is where you would add extra, if you are adding a little more sugar). When the yolks are light (both in weight and colour) and fluffy, stir in the warm cream. Pass through a sieve (we forgot to do this and it didn’t make a huge difference to the final result!).
3. Pour the mixture into either one ovenproof dish or four ramekins and place in a roasting tin half-filled with hot water (a bain-marie) and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes – the outside will be set when it is cooked. Put in the fridge overnight.
4. The next day, sprinkle the top of each ramekin or the dish with a layer of sugar – Leith’s recommends a 3mm layer – I didn’t read this at the time and only had about 1mm on each brûlée which didn’t seem to be enough.
5. If you have a mini blowtorch, carefully heat the layer of sugar, allowing it to melt and caramelize, but being careful not to burn. If you don’t have a mini blowtorch (which is probably more likely!) you can also do this under a hot grill – again keep an eye on it ensuring it doesn’t burn.
6. Allow the dessert to cool before serving – the layer of caramelized sugar should be hard.