Thursday, 28 February 2013
Beware the novice with the blowtorch - Vanilla Crème Brûlée
I think that if twenty years ago somebody had said to me that I would be wrapped at receiving a blowtorch and four ramekins for Christmas I would have doubted their sanity quite frankly, for who would really want kitchen gadgetry for Christmas when you could have perfume, or jewellery, or books? Well, whilst the 19 year old Stella would have been extraordinarily disappointed with such a gift, the now 39 year old Stella was really quite chuffed and whilst there might have been method in Phill's madness, for he is partial to the odd creme brulee or several, I was quite eager to try this out instead of attempting to caramelise sugar under the grill which always turns out to be an epic fail. Burnt patches is my best effort.
Anyway, even though the French always try to claim this pudding as theirs when we know it's an English pud (Trinity Burnt Cream, of course, with a big apology to my French friends!!) it was perfectly natural that I choose a French inspired recipe to try out my latest piece of kitchen kit, and it was also a no brainer that I turned to 'Cooking with the Masterchef' by Michel Roux Jr for guidance. I am so loving the return of 'Food and Drink' on the BBC and it's mainly because of him, I think. It just goes to show that being a Michelin starred chef doesn't necessitate acting like an arse. Gordon Ramsay, take note. Anyway, who put that soapbox there?
Unsurprisingly, considering their pedigree, these turned out beautifully, if a little pale, but that more to do with my reticence with the blowtorch and I suspect being a bit stingy with the sugar coating rather than a suspect recipe. Next time, for there will be a next time, I will be far more brave. And generous. And, just in case you were under the impression that creme brulee is an adult pud, (maybe you weren't) Lola and Finn swooned their way through the eating of these. From the tap of the sugar crust through each unctuous mouthful the only noise to be heard was "Mmmmmmm." There really can be no higher recommendation.
Vanilla Crème Brûlée , taken from 'Cooking with the Masterchef' by Michel Roux Jr
Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad
My adaptions in red.
250ml double cream
75ml full-fat milk
1 vanilla pod, scraped
4 egg yolks
3 tbsp caster sugar , plus 3-4 tbsp for the topping (I read tsp - hence their pale appearance)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Heat oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1.
Put the cream, milk and vanilla pod into a pan and heat to boiling point. Cover and leave to infuse for 10 mins.
Whisk the egg yolks and 3 tbsp of sugar together until pale and thick.
Add the vanilla extract and pour the boiling cream onto the mixture. Stir well, then pour into four ramekins. (If your ramekins are shallow, you may find you have mixture left over and so just make more brulees to eat. What a chore...)
Place the ramekins in a bain marie and cook in the oven for about 20 mins or until just set. Leave to cool. (Mine took about 30 mins to set, and I put enough boiling water in the bain marie for the ramekin dishes to be about two thirds submerged before they went in the oven).
When ready to serve, sprinkle the cold brûlée with a thin, even layer of sugar, and caramelise under the very hot grill (or use a blowtorch as I did). Repeat several times until you have a golden crackling topping. Leave to cool and serve within 2 hours of 'bruleeing'. I dusted with a bit of icing sugar and added a couple of strawberries... just because I can, quite honestly.
Another visit to pudding heaven, guaranteed.