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Recipe: Quick and Dirty Crème Brûlée


When I was in my 20s, I lived in L.A. for a couple of years. Two of my friends and I had a tradition where we would take the third one out to one of the city’s nicer restaurants for dinner on her birthday. The one restaurant we couldn’t afford was L’Orangerie, but one year we decided to splurge and go there for dessert and coffee afterwards. And that was the first time I had crème brûlée.

Oh. My. God.

I don’t remember the first time I made it, but I do remember it being semi labour-intensive. So I only save the full-on treatment for guests. (Very SPECIAL guests… 🙂 )

However, I have come up with a shortcut-intensive version that—while it doesn’t have quite the same level of nuanced flavours and creamy perfection—doesn’t suck. Doesn’t suck at all.

Note: If you decide to try this recipe, you’ll want to play with quantities and times since I’m pretty loosey-goosey about it. Also, since that first one at L’Orangerie had fresh berries in it, I always add them to my own, but feel free to leave them out if you’re more of a traditionalist. You can also easily double (triple?) the recipe.

  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Pour a cup of heavy whipping cream into a microwave-safe bowl and add 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract to it. Microwave for about a minute at medium power. You want it warm but not boiling.
  3. Blend two egg yolks with 1/4 cup of white sugar. I use my Magic Bullet for this step and it’s perfect. Gets it to that nice pale yellow colour in about 10 seconds.
  4. Slowly pour the cream into the egg mixture and blend again.
  5. If you’re using berries, add them to the bottom of your ramekins. Put the ramekins into a baking pan and fill them to almost the top with the custard liquid. Depending on the size of your ramekins, you may get two or three  of them. (I use a loaf pan when I only have a couple to bake).
  6. Add water to the baking pan until it comes to about halfway up the ramekins. TIP: To reduce the risk of spilling anything, put the baking pan on the oven rack before adding the water, then use something with a thin spout (indoor watering can works great) to pour the water into the pan.
  7. Bake for about 1/2 an hour then check to see if the custard is almost set. With the berries, it may need additional time.
  8. When ready, take out the baking pan and let cool. Remove the ramekins and put in the refrigerator to chill for several hours or overnight.
  9. Just before serving, take the pots out of the fridge. Sprinkle the top with extra fine sugar. Tip: If you don’t have extra fine sugar (also called fruit sugar), the Magic Bullet does a good job of grinding it up as well.
  10. Use a culinary torch to melt the sugar. Wait a minute or two for the topping to harden.

Doesn’t suck. Doesn’t suck at all.


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