Sunday, February 22, 2009

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée

On a whim Friday night, I decided to make crème brûlée, as it is an easy but delicious dessert.

The recipe I used was from Anita Chu's blog Dessert First. I modified it slightly, such as adding more sugar and more vanilla flavoring. I also added Grand Marnier orange liqueur and rose water, as the recipe called for. Overall, the crème brûlée turned out great, with the smooth flavor of vanilla and the floral hint of rose water. The Grand Marnier was hard to discern, however, so I would add more than the recipe calls for. Speaking of the recipe, it's posted below:

Rosebud Crème Brûlée

makes about 6 servings in 4 1/2 ounce ramekins

2 cups heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon vanilla seeds, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces egg yolks (about 4-5 eggs)
2 ounces sugar*
1/4 teaspoon Grand Marnier**
1/2 teaspoon rose water

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Find a baking pan that will fit all of the ramekins you plan to use. The sides of the pan should be at least as high as the ramekins. Line the bottom of the baking pan with a towel.

Heat the cream and vanilla in a medium saucepan on medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit for about 10 minutes for the vanilla to infuse.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl.

Slowly pour about a third of the hot cream into the eggs, whisking all the time to prevent the eggs from curdling.

Pour the tempered eggs back into the cream, whisking constantly until combined. Whisk gently to prevent bubbles from forming.

Strain the mixture into a clean bowl.

Add the Grand Marnier and rose water and let the custard cool slightly.

Arrange the ramekins in the baking pan on top of the towel. Using a ladle, carefully, pour the custard into the ramekins, filling just below the rim. Try to fill all of the ramekins to the same height so they will bake evenly.

Carefully pour hot water into the baking pan until it comes up about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Do not let the water get into the pan.

Carefully place the baking pan into the oven and bake for about 45 minutes to an hour until set. I checked at about half an hour and at 45 minutes, but don't open the oven door too often or you'll lose all the heat and the custards will not cook. You can check the progress of the custards by sticking a paring knife into the custard slightly away from the center. If it comes out covered in liquidy custard, it's not done yet. Also, if you lightly touch the center of the custard and your fingertip comes away covered in custard it is also not done.

When the custards are done, they should shimmy slightly when you move the pan (careful not to spill water!) but the center should not move separately. If, however, it has set like Jello and there are bubbles forming on the top it is becoming overcooked and you should remove the custards immediately. If the custards start rising at any point they have become overcooked.

After you remove the baking pan from the oven and the ramekins have cooled enough to handle, remove the ramekins, cover them, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving.

When you are ready to serve the crème brûlées, take one ramekin at a time and sprinkle the top with sugar evenly over the top. Using a hand-held blowtorch, carefully caramelize the sugar. Keep the flame at least 2 inches from the sugar to prevent burning the sugar. You can also caramelize the sugar under a broiler.

Let the sugar cool for a couple of minutes before serving. Do not brûlée the custards more than 20 minutes before serving or the sugar may melt.

Recipe courtesy of Anita Chu at

*I used more sugar (1/2 cup total instead of about 1/4 cup total).
**You may want to use more Grand Marnier if you want a more noticeable orange flavor.


tina said...

Thanks for sharing the recipe. It looks so good! And it is breakfast here:)

Chiot's Run said...

YUM YUM. I have one vanilla bean left. This might be what I've been saving it for.

Dan said...

I will have to try this. I am out of vanilla though so I will have to pick some up. I use Nielson Massey Vanilla Bean Paste, it is very nice.