Crème brûlée is one of my favourite desserts. Unfortunately when you order it at a restaurant it's often dissapointing and far too big. This is my best recipe and has never failed me.
The best part about this recipe is that the custard isn't too thick or overly rich. I like mine to still have a bit of a wobble and not be like eating baked clotted cream.
It's the same custard recipe as the best-dessert-I've-ever-made. So if it's summer and the sun is shining in your part of the world, perhaps consider that version.
But right now, I want caramel.
I love my little blowtorch from Migros. Watching it work on meringue or sugar is mesmerising. I often sprinkle sugar over half a pink grapefruit and brûlée that. Partly because it tastes good and partly because it's fun.
About half an hour after pulling the custards out of the oven, I couldn't wait any more. I took one without chilling it, chucked some caster sugar on it and went to town with the blowtorch.
While it was worth it at the time, do chill them and use granulated (caster seems to melt too quickly and then burn but that might have been my overenthusiasm). However good they are at first, they're just so much better later. Trust me.
The next day I had to photograph one again after slightly burning the first. So - oh how awful is the life of a food blogger - I got to eat one at 3pm in the afternoon as a random snack. I still desperately didn't want to share with mum but somehow managed to hand over a slightly meagre half.
There's nothing quite like smashing through a beautiful layer of caramel into gorgeous custard. I love the gradation from warm at the top from the torching to still slightly chilled (not too cold, that upsets me) at the bottom...
I like my crème brûlée with plenty of real vanilla. If I get to the bottom and it's not full of seeds, I will not be impressed.
So yes, I do have a lot of opinions about crème brûlée.
Do try this if you have a blowtorch. If you don't, I really would recommend one. Even if just for this.
(adapted from Annie Bell's Gorgeous Desserts)
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 tbsp sugar (I use vanilla caster)
1/2 to 2/3 vanilla pod
300ml whipping/double cream (not too thick)
Preheat the oven to 160C/140C (fan). Place four small-medium ramekins into a small roasting tray. Put the kettle on to boil. Chop the pod into 1/2 inch chunks with a knife or scissors. Put in the bowl of a food processor along with the rest of the ingredients. Blend until the pod seems finely chopped and the seeds are distributed throughout the mixture. Pour through a sieve into a jug. Pour into the ramekins, trying to evenly distribute between them. Place the tray into the oven and pour hot water from the kettle into the roasting tray carefully up to 1/2 way up the sides, avoiding it splashing into the ramekins.
Bake until they still wobble when shaken but are set and have a golden crust - about 50 minutes. Remove from the water to a rack and cool. When room temperature, place into the fridge for at least four hours (I've kept them in the fridge for up to 3 days).
When ready to brûlée, take them out onto the side for 5 minutes to take the proper chill off them before you start. Sprinkle about a tbsp of granulated sugar over the crust, spreading it evenly and making sure it reaches the sides. Fire up your blowtorch and start melting the sugar - I do one side then twist it 180 degrees. Keep going until it's deep golden brown and bubbling. Leave to cool for a few minutes so the pool of caramel sets then serve.
(Makes 4, easily scaled up)