Oh, Creme Brulee.
It’s one of my favorite desserts. When I was in high school my parents gave me a creme brulee set for hannukah and I was so excited and then when I decided I was going to make creme brulee, I couldn’t find the set.
Then I moved to Portland and I found a set at a garage sale for $5. When I bought it the woman looked like she’d realized she could have sold it for more. Haha!
Then that sat on my shelf for another 9 months because I kept forgetting to get butane for the torch.
I finally got butane and let me tell you, there are going to be a lot more torched recipes on this blog…
I skipped a lot of the wait time on this recipe. It wanted me to let the custard sit over night (HELL NO, I WANT MY CREME BRULEE NOW). And then let it sit for another 4 hours… and I just decided to not do it. It turned out fine. So there. I don’t understand warming up the cream and vanilla bean and then letting it cool except that it might infuse the vanilla into the cream more. I did it, but I think you could probably skip that too.
I used all the tiny pans I had (creme brulee pans, brioche tins, muffin tins…) and I found that muffin tins worked and looked the best, so if you’re worried that you don’t have enough tins, you do. As for the torch… go get one. They are so much fun!
Cinnamon & Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee Tartlets
720 ml heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise to expose seeds
10 egg yolks
80 grams granulated sugar, plus extra for torching
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the cream, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean and bring just to a simmer. Remove from heat, pour into a glass or metal bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 4 hours or overnight.
Now is a good time to scroll down and start the tart crust!
Reheat the cream mixture just to a boil, then remove from heat and set aside.
In a large metal or glass bowl, whisk the egg whites and sugar for about a minute until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
Pour about 1/4 of the hot cream mixture through a sieve into the egg yolk mixture and whisk well to combine. Pour the rest of the cream through the sieve into the egg yolk mixture, and discard the leftover cinnamon stick and vanilla bean pod. Whisk well to combine.
Set bowl containing egg/cream mixture over a pot of barely simmering water to create a double boiler, making sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water itself. Cook, whisking constantly over the simmering water for 10-15 minutes or until it begins to thicken.
Once the custard has thickened (it will not be as thick as a pastry cream), remove from heat and whisk for another two minutes to start the cooling process. Once it has cooled a bit, set a layer of plastic wrap directly on the custard, this will prevent it from getting a skin, and chill for at least an hour or until it has thickened considerably.
Pate Brisee Tart Shells
400 grams (14 oz) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
In a small bowl, combine sugar, water, and vinegar, stir to aid the dissolving of the sugar. Set aside in refrigerator for 10 minutes. Then, stir again to completely dissolve sugar.
In the bowl of a standard mixer using the paddle, combine the flour and salt together. Add the butter, and stir on a medium until butter is cut in and evenly dispersed. You should have visible chunks of butter in your flour mixture, this is where the flakiness comes from.
Fill the tart shells with the custard. You can overfill them a bit and then use a off set spatula to scrape any excess off the top, leaving a nice flat surface for the torched sugar. Once all the tarts are filled, chill them for at least 15 minutes before torching.
Sprinkle about a teaspoon or so of sugar in a thin layer over each tart, and use a kitchen torch to caramelize sugar. Concentrate mostly on the center, and torch gently around the edges being careful not to burn the edges of the pastry.
Let the tarts sit for a minute so the sugar has hardened before you serve them.
Total Time: About 6 hours
Picture taken by the amazing Rachel King