Christmas "break" has been anything but a break. With last minute shopping, gift wrapping, decorating, planning and of course baking, our family has been joyously busy. Add in a deluge bringing nearly half of our yearly San Diego rainfall in just a couple of days and we even have a bit of chaos! Hours of pounding rain, which is highly unusual for this area, raised my concerns during the night and my fears greeted me this morning as our normally sparkling blue pool waters now appeared more like our murky ocean. Luckily it is only a small slide into the water, but it looks like Daddy has a project today!
|Welcome to the Emerald City!|
Most everything has been coming out beautifully with the only failure, and it is just a failure in looks, being a special Candy Cane Cookie that we were making for a friend. In Liv's usual zest for life she commented, "Don't worry Mom, looks don't matter because these taste awesome! And besides, they were really fun to make and we got to do it together." Can I just mention how much I love that girl??!!
With our candy cane cookies using 4 egg whites we had 4 lonely egg yolks without a use. As I really don't like to waste we began a search for egg yolk uses. Knowing that whatever we found for egg yolks was likely to be calorie laden I pushed away any thoughts about "light" desserts and we decided to go big! Liv's search did indeed turn up a lovely calorie laden Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee which perfectly fit our needs!
Calling for exactly 4 egg yolks, the additional calories come from the 2 cups of heavy whipping cream and sugar. Reminiscent of ice cream custard, the brulee is amazingly easy to put together. A simple heating of the cream and vanilla beans on the stove culminates with the combination of the hot vanilla cream, egg yolks and sugar. 30 or so minutes later a beautiful creamy custard is ready for a chill in the fridge.
Topped with a crunchy sheet of caramelized sugar, creme brulee is appropriate for any occasion and much to my surprise, not really difficult to make. Worthy of your best vanilla and beans, this dessert will garner rave reviews from your holiday guest. Definitely a perfect way to use up those spare egg yolks...
|Yep... it was THAT good!|
Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
1 vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325º.
Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan over medium low heat. Split and scrape the vanilla bean into the cream mixture. Add the scraped bean into the pan as well. Heat the cream, stirring frequently, just until bubbles begin to form around the edges.
|This dessert is worthy of your best vanilla sources!|
Add a small amount, maybe 1/3 or 1/2 cup, of the hot cream to the egg mixture and whisk to mix. Add another 1/2 cup and whisk again. Add the remaining cream (removing the vanilla bean pods) to the eggs and whisk. Add the vanilla extract, stir.
Place six 5-ounce ramekins in roasting pan (I use my pyrex brownie pan!). Fill the ramekins with the custard mixture and then fill the roasting pan 1/2 way up the ramekins with very hot water. (To be safe, I removed one of the ramekins and slowly poured the water into the dish, then replaced the remaining ramekin. I can see myself pouring water into my precious brulee). Place the baking pan into the oven and bake about 40 minutes, removing, as Alton Brown so beautifully put it, when the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the center. Remove ramekins from the baking pan and place in the refrigerator. Chill for at least 3 hours and up to a few days.
Before serving, remove ramekins from the refrigerator. Top each creme brulee with approximately 1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar, tilting to spread evenly. Use a kitchen torch in a circular motion to caramelize, but being careful not to burn, the sugar. Let stand for about 5 minutes to allow the sugar to harden and serve.
Serve alone or top with fresh fruit. Enjoy!
Notes: Creme Brulee has always intimidated me, but it really wasn't hard!! My mom gave me a kitchen torch years ago, and I got about one good use out of it. Then it would never start again. This time I went to Home Depot and am happy to report that my industrial, not very pretty, $9 torch plumbers worked fabulously!! I have also tried to caramelize under the broiler without much luck. Note that if you do the broiler method, the sugar will go from white to burnt in a flash! Watch carefully.