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Monday, February 8, 2010

Classic Crème Brûlée

As Valentine’s Day slowly sneaks up on you, your mind begins to formulate an exhausting variety of questions. How will you allure your significant other? Which combination of dinner and dessert will guarantee an irresistibly romantic evening? What do I wear, a feminine Diane Von Furstenberg dress, or a Marc Jacob cool, calm, and collective ensemble? Do I serve a trust-worthy fillet or a stuffed birdie?

My dear reader, although I cannot ascertain the answer that will make you and your sweetheart shoot Aphrodite's love rays at each other before, during, and after dinner, I can offer a delectable, and in my opinion, taste bud-affirmed suggestion for a culinary-classic dessert that will offer a note-worthy contribution for your carefully-planned evening.
As with most of life’s uncertainties, the answer for us ladies would be, hands-down, chocolate. But for this Valentine's, I will suggest something more luscious, and although classified under the same timeline as "Old Yeller," it's irresistible quality of creamy, hiding beneath a seared top layer of candy delight, will blend and result in a standing ovation for the good 'ole' taste of vanilla- and thus, an honest attempt to win over your sweet's heart.
Voil̀à: Crème Brûlée! (obnoxious clapping from my end!) Enjoy!

Classic Crème Brûlée

2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar, plus more for topping
Heat the oven to 325°F.
Heat the cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat until scalded (you'll see small bubbles on the sides of the pan). Split the vanilla bean in half, if using, and scrape the seeds into the cream. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, slowly whisk the sugar into the egg yolks. Slowly whisk the hot cream/milk into the sugar/yolk mixture. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a pitcher or measuring cup. Stir in the salt and vanilla extract, if using.
Arrange eight 6-oz. ramekins in a baking dish with deep sides. Pour the custard into the ramekins, fill the baking dish with water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins and cover the dish with foil. Bake until just set, 30 to 50 min. Be sure to start checking early; baking time will depend on the thickness and depth of your ramekins and baking dish.


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