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Classic Crème Brûlée

This classic version of one of France's signature desserts is surprisingly easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream (or 1 cup half-and-half and 1 cup heavy cream)
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (Demerara or coarse white sparkling sugar work well)


Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Pour the cream into a 1-quart saucepan, and heat the cream just until it almost comes to a boil. Remove it from the heat.
  3. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until the sugar dissolves.
  4. Add the hot cream a little at a time; mix well.
  5. Stir in the vanilla bean paste.
  6. Pour the custard through a fine sieve or strainer, and pour it into four heart molds, or 1/2-cup capacity ramekins about 2" tall.
  7. Place the molds or ramekins in a large baking pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the dishes.
  8. Bake until the custard is set but still a bit jiggly in the center, about 30 minutes.
  9. Remove the dishes from the water and let cool completely.
  10. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or up to overnight; no need to cover.
  11. To serve, sprinkle the sugar evenly over the custards. For easiest caramelizing, run a torch evenly over the tops of the custards until the sugar is a deep golden brown. Or caramelize the sugar by placing molds or ramekins under your oven's broiler; watch carefully, as a broiler element can turn sugar from browned to burned quickly.

Hands-on time: 20 mins. to 30 mins.
Baking time: 28 mins. to 35 mins.
Total time: 1 hrs 48 mins. to 2 hrs 48 mins.
Yield: 4 servings

Recipe and photo credit: King Arthur Flour - kingarthurflour.com.


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