“Amélie has no boyfriend. She’s tried once or twice, but the results were a letdown. Instead, she cultivates a taste for small pleasures: dipping her hand into sacks of grain, cracking crème brûlée with a teaspoon, and skipping stones at St. Martin's canal.” — Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain
Crème brûlée is the perfect dessert. Crème brûlée is French for burnt cream, or carmelized cream. It's a dessert custard with sugar on top that is carmelized with a torch or under a broiler.
Crème brûlée is sweet, creamy and decadent, but it also happens to be very nutrient-dense, especially if you use cream from grass-fed cows.
Cream from cows eating green grass is rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, D & K2. It also has much higher levels of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), a compound that protects against cancer and also helps your body build muscle rather than store fat.
What? You say I can eat crème brûlée and lose fat and build muscle?
I'm in, ya'll! I'm ALL in.
Crème Brûlée: So Easy, Even a 9-Year-Old Can Do It
People think crème brûlée is hard to make, but it isn't!
We made this crème brûlée when some friends came over for dinner recently.
Their 9-year-old son helped me. He was so excited to use the torch.
I kept calling him Chef. “Can I take that for you, Chef?” “Do you think it needs more sugar, Chef?”
I told him that one day, when he has a girlfriend, he's going to be able to make her the most awesome crème brûlée. Can you imagine if a boy did that for you? Tres romantique!
This recipe is an adaption from the crème brûlée recipe in The Balthazar Cookbook. I've owned this cookbook for 15 years (a Christmas present from my brother) and it has served me very, very well. It's a (much) slimmer version of Julia Child's, Mastering the Art of French Cooking only modernized. Everything I've made from this cookbook comes out fabulous, from the braised short ribs with port-wine reduction sauce to French fries to this crowd-pleasing crème brûlée.
You need 4-inch-wide ramekins for this recipe, but you can also use smaller ones.
You'll need to allow an extra hour for the crème brûlée to chill and set. But that's the best thing about this dessert. You can make the custard the day before and let it cool in the fridge. Then, at the end of your dinner party, you can whip out the chilled ramekins and impress your dinner guests with your torch.
If you are in a hurry and didn't get to make your custard ahead, you can always chill it fast in the freezer.
You do need a culinary torch. I got mine at the restaurant supply store but you can get one on Amazon (this is the one I have: Iwatani Torch Burner Professional).
You'll also need some culinary butane like this: Blazer Butane Refill. Just snap the torch on top of the butane and you are ready to roll.
If you don't have a torch, you can also just put the ramekins under the broiler.
Our crème brûlée looks a shade darker than you'll see it in a restaurant because we are using sucanat or palm sugar. This is because sucanat and palm sugar are much more nutrient-dense than granulated white sugar, which is refined and has been stripped of all the nutrition.
Eggs, large, organic and free-range and ideally from pastured chickens (5)
Cream, organic, preferably from grass-fed cows (2 cups, or 16 oz)
Sugar, sucanat or palm sugar (1/4 cup + 4 TBS)
Vanilla bean (1) — you can also use vanilla extract to taste
Cinnamon stick (1/2)
Large mixing bowl
Glass measuring cup
Medium mixing bowl
Large roasting pan or casserole
Culinary torch (this is the one I have: Iwatani Torch Burner Professional)
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
2. Prepare an ice bath in a large mixing bowl (fill halfway with ice cubes and add some cold water).
3. Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Set the yolks aside. Discard the whites or save for another use.
4. In a medium saucepan on medium heat, combine the cream and 1/4 cup of the sucanat or palm sugar. Whisk in the vanilla bean and its seeds (or vanilla extract), and the cinnamon stick. Bring it to a boil, whisking gently.
5. When it reaches a boil, transfer the hot cream to a glass measuring cup.
6. In a medium mixing bowl (one that fits into the ice bath), lightly beat the egg yolks with a whisk. Whisking steadily, slowly (this prevents the egg yolk from cooking) add the hot cream to the yolks.
7. Cool the bowl in the ice bath until the custard reaches room temperature (about half an hour).
8. Fill 6 ramekins nearly to the top with the custard. Gently place them in a large roasting pan or casserole.
9. Fill the pan with warm water until the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
10. Cover the pan with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the custard is set and firm when the ramekins are jiggled.
11. Remove from the oven, let cool, and then refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
12. Prior to serving, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sucanat or palm sugar over each custard, spread evenly across the width of the ramekins.
13. Brown the tops of the crème brûlée with a culinary torch. If you don't have a torch, you can slide under an oven broiler for 2 minutes, or until the sugar bubbles.
14. Sprinkle another teaspoon of the sugar mixture over each custard and brown again. Serve immediately.