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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

deceptively simple

Top Ten Reasons This is the Perfect Valentine’s Dessert

10. Everybody loves crème brulee. Everybody.
9. This recipe makes enough for six. Unless you’re a swinger, you’ll have leftovers.
8. You can buy yourself a Valentine’s present – special kitchen gear!
7. Crème brulee looks great by candlelight.
6. Preparing it ahead of time gives you time to shave.
5. Tastes great. ‘Nuf said.
4. Less filling – won’t make you feel too heavy for that midnight dip in the hot tub.
3. Blowtorches are sexy.
2. A fancy dessert like this can make up for any crappy dinner. Finish on a high note.
1. It’s so much easier to do than it looks.

Fuzzy Navel Crème Brulee

2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbs vanilla
1 Tbs orange zest (I used blood oranges, but any orange’ll do)
1 small egg
3 large egg yolks
7 Tbs peach syrup (maple syrup is an okay substitute)
4 Tbs Sugar-in-the-Raw, for topping
6 (4-ounce) brulee molds
1 kitchen torch (not completely necessary, but awesome)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Pour the heavy cream and vanilla into a pan and place over medium heat. Scald the cream by heating it until bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan. Remove from the heat.

While cream is heating, whisk together the whole egg, egg yolks, syrup, and orange zest until well blended.

Continue to whisk while slowly pouring the hot cream into the egg mixture and whisk until the mixture is smooth and evenly mixed. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer or through cheesecloth to remove any overcooked eggs and orange zest. (Your next step will be easier if you strain the mixture into a large liquid measuring cup or a bowl with a spout.)

Place the brulee molds on a baking sheet with 1-inch-high sides or in a casserole dish. Fill the molds half-full with the custard and set the sheet in the oven. (It’s much easier to move the sheet with the molds only half-full.) Now, finish filling the molds.

Using hot tap water, pour enough water into the baking sheet (or casserole dish) to reach halfway up the sides of the molds. The water bath will make sure the custard cooks evenly.

Bake about 40 minutes. When finished, the custard should tremble slightly when gently shaken. If it looks like there is any liquid under the skin of the custards, put them back in the oven and shake them every 5 minutes or so until they are ready.

Remove the molds from the water bath and place on a cooling rack for 30 minutes. Then refrigerate for 2 hours (or for up to 3 days) before serving.

Caramelize the sugar topping right before serving. If there is any condensation on the top of the custard, blot it up carefully with a paper towel. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of the sugar over the top of the custards. Make sure you spread the sugar evenly; if it is too thick or too thin in places, the caramelization will not be even.

Fire up the kitchen torch. Keep it moving as you caramelize the sugar to a deep, liquidy brown. It will harden as soon as you stop torching it.

(If you’ve spent too much on flowers and silk sheets to buy your own kitchen torch, you can caramelize the sugar in the oven. Put the custards on a baking sheet, sprinkle the sugar, and set the oven on broil. When the broiler is hot, place the sheet about 4 inches under the broiler, and heat until the sugar is caramelized. You’re more likely to burn the crème brulee under the broiler, so you must watch the caramelizing closely! They are finished when they are light brown.)

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