Be honest with me, what is the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the words "Creme Brulee"? Is it a fancy French restaurant? A super nice dinner party? An expensive dinner out? I'll bet you a hundred bucks it's not "vanilla pudding". Because, really, that's all it is! Plain ole vanilla pudding with a crispy sugar crust on top. Phew, that just made creme brulee' a whole lot less intimidating, huh? I promise you that making this scrumptious dessert will earn you some major points with anyone you're trying to impress! Mother-in-law? Snooty cousin? Girlfriend? They would all be smitten by your crazy kitchen skills! Creme brulee' is (obviously) French, and all it means is broiled cream... which is, incidentally, exactly what it is. If you're able to make a pudding, cook it in the oven, sprinkle brown sugar on top of it, and use the broiler, you can surely make this. I really wish I had one of those cool kitchen torches to caramelize the sugar topping in half a second, and to tell you the truth, that's what kept me from making creme brulee' for the longest time... my lack of a torch! I now know that the built-in broiler in your oven is a perfectly adequate replacement, so what are you waiting for? You officially have no excuses left. 🙂
adapted from Good Housekeeping's Best Loved Desserts
Yields: 6 servings
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 ½ cups skim milk
8 egg yolks
⅔ cups granulated sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
strawberries for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 325F.
In a heavy, small saucepan, heat heavy cream, milk, and cinnamon over medium heat until bubbles start to form around the edges of the pan. Remove from heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat egg yolks and granulated sugar with a wire whisk, until well blended. Slowly stir in hot milk mixture, then mix in vanilla extract. Pour the cream into 6-8 1-cup ramekins.
Place ramekins in a large roasting pan or casserole dish, and fill the dish about halfway with very hot water. Place everything in the oven and bake until just set, about 40-45 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until set (about 3 hrs) making sure to press plastic wrap on the surface of the puddings to prevent a "skin" from forming.
About 30 minutes-1 hour before serving, preheat the broiler on high. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly on top of the puddings, covering the whole surface evenly. Place the ramekins on a jelly roll pan. Make sure the broiler rack is as close to the top as it gets, then broil the puddings until the brown sugar has melted and is slightly caramelized. Let cool before serving, or you will burn your mouth... and it will hurt! I don't know this from experience or anything... 🙂 Top with strawberries if you're feeling fancy!