Saturday, April 3, 2010

Chocolate & Vanilla Bean Crème Brûleé

Ever since I got these vanilla beans from Costco, I've been faced w/ a dilemma. How do I use up all these vanilla beans before they all dry out? Damn you, Costco.

Let's see..I have a dinner w/ friends tonight. How about some creme brulee? Everyone can have a turn at caramelizing their own sugar, love the interactive factor (and if they burn theirs to hell, they have to eat it themselves).

The only thing I added was the chocolate option for people like Gabe. Plus, there's that whole saying about variety being the spice of life?

Start w/ eight large eggs.
Separate egg yolks from whites.
Save the whites for omelets or something.
1/2 c. sugar. You can use vanilla sugar here too. I didn't think of making vanilla sugar until after I started. Duh.
Sorry the pictures aren't so good - it's always a struggle to take pictures when I have to use both hands while cooking.
So whisk the egg yolks to break them up.
Then add the sugar and blend until smooth.
Heat the cream in a saucepan until just before simmering.

Split the vanilla bean in half and using the back of the knife (thanks Ashley & thank your dad for me too! :D) gently scrape out the vanilla beans.

Blend into the egg mixture.
You can tell when the heavy cream is about to simmer by the little tiny bubbles on the side of the pan.
Temper the eggs by whisking in the hot heavy cream a little at a time. I used my 1/2 cup measure just so I wouldn't have to dirty anything extra. Gabe cried a tear of joy.
Whisk in. If you're using a hand mixer like me, just use the low setting. I had all these annoying bubbles. I was worried they were going to ruin my pretty creme brulees but you have to put the sugar on top anyways. No worries.

Ladle the vanilla ones into the ramekins. If you want to make chocolate ones too, hold back on dishing the rest of the mixture.
Get about 1 tbsp. of cocoa powder in a bowl.
Mix in 1 tbsp. very hot (I used boiling) water to melt the cocoa powder.
Mix until nice and glossy. Get all the lumps out!
Whisk the chocolate back into the remaining creme brulee mixture.

I got so annoyed w/ the foam I skimmed it off. All wasted energy.

Place the pan into the heated oven then pour the water in.
Easier to transfer stuff w/o spilling water.
40 to 45 minutes later, this is what you have.
Chocolate tooooo.
I need a bib.
Then you get one of these. And if you don't have one, I wrote directions for how to do this w/ your oven in the recipe below.
Vanilla sugar. About 1 tsp.
Sprinkle on.
Torch until nice and golden.
Take a big spoonful. For quality control purposes only.
And then try not to feel guilty about eating 10 more bites.
It's SO yum.
Check out the vanilla bean action.
Hard candy sugar coating. Enjoy!

Chocolate & Vanilla Bean Crème Brûleé

makes about five 1/2 c. servings
inspired by Kirkland's Best Rodelle Vanilla Bean packaging
8 large egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 to 1.5 tbsp. boiling water
5 tsp. vanilla sugar (or regular sugar)

Make sure your creme brulee dishes all fit in a pan with a rim so you can put water to about 1/2 way up the side of the dishes.

Preheat oven 325 degrees. Pour heavy cream into small saucepan and turn on medium low heat. Meanwhile, separate egg yolks from whites. Mix sugar into egg yolks until just smooth. When the cream is just about to simmer, remove from heat. Split a vanilla bean and gently scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pod. Mix into the egg/sugar mixture. Temper the eggs with the hot heavy cream a 1/2 cup at a time. After about 1 1/2 cups of the heavy cream tempering the eggs, pour the egg mixture into the rest of the cream.

Dish up 2 or 3 of your vanilla creme brulees now. If you want the chocolate versions, in a separate bowl mix the cocoa powder and 1 to 1.5 tbsp. of hot water until the powder is smooth and glossy. Add back into the mixture and mix until combined. Continue to dish into ramekins.

Make sure you have at least 4 cups of hot water nearby. Place the ramekins in the pan/baking dish they will be baked in. Ladel the mixture into the ramekins. I had enough for about 5 1/2 cup servings. Place the pan in the oven then pour the water into the pan. This makes it a little easier to transfer the pan into the oven without spilling water overboard - or worse, INTO your creme brulee.

Bake for about 40 minutes. Allow to cool completely and refridgerate until about 30 minutes before you are ready to serve. Take them out of the fridge and let them come up to room temp. Spoon 1 tsp. vanilla sugar in each ramekin and either set under the broiler on the top rack of your oven (about 3 minutes, watch carefully) or use a small culinary torch to caramelize the sugar until a golden crust is formed. Serve immediately, enjoy!

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