Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Almost Perfect--Special guest post

This post has been a long time coming. Not because it wasn't delicious, just because there were so many other recipes I want to share (and I still need to get the parsley entry).

A while ago, a friend asked us to a BBQ, and would I please make a salad? Not a problem, I love making salads and they tend to get good reviews. Then I was asked to bring dessert and I said, "Oh *&^%$!" and promptly started looking for recipes. Seeing me in an utter panic, my sweetie gallantly said he would make dessert, and even make it a creme brulee,  a trend which I hope doesn't go away any time soon.

So without further ado . . 

The Almost-Perfect Creme Brulee

For this creme brulee recipe, I used Alton Brown's and Paula Deen's as the basis, but there are ingredients and steps that make it mine.


1 Pint Heavy Cream
1 Vanilla Bean , cut lengthwise in half
3 Large Egg Yolks
1/4 Cup Sugar
4 Tbsp Cognac
1  tsp Xanthan Gum
2-3 Qt of water.

Preheat the oven to 325F. It's very important to use a good oven thermometer here. Custard is one of the least forgiving things I do.

Scrape seeds from the vanilla bean

Scraping seeds from the vanilla bean

In a small saucepan, bring the vanilla bean seeds, cream and half of the cognac to a simmer. As an aside, never, ever cook with booze you're not absolutely delighted with. I used Remy Martin's 1738. Let the mixture come to a simmer, but not to full boil. Remove from heat. 

Place the mixture in a blender. Carefully and slowly add the Xanthan gum while pulsing it. You really don't want this to clump, and it will if you let it. Blend for another 30 seconds or so to make sure it's smooth, and then let sit for about 10 minutes.

Take the 3 egg yolks and the half of the sugar, and whisk until slightly lightened in colour. <em>Slowly</em> add the cream mixture while whisking. 

Put the ramekins in a roasting pan or similar, and then pour the boiling water so it covers about half-3/4 of the way up. Then slowly pour the cream-egg mixture into the ramekins. This will come really, really high. Don't worry, it will shrink a bit.

Bake for about 15-20 mins. Turn it to cook it evenly, and bake for another 20 minutes or so. They should be jiggly but not bubbling. My first batch was bubbling. Oops.

Take them out of the oven, and let them sit, hot water and all, until the ramekins are cool to touch. Remove the top crust layer, and "discard". Then mix the custard until it's even and smooth. Put it in the refrigerator for minimum of 2 hours. 

In a small saucepan, mix the rest of the Cognac and the sugar, and warm it a little to get the alcohol to start evaporating, then turn off the heat. Make sure all loose clothing, hair, etc., are tied down. Torch the sugar several times to get most of the booze out. Let this mixture sit and cool for the rest of the 2 hours.

Before serving, warm the flambe'ed mixture a little, and then divide it evenly on top of the creme. Take the torch, and in quick, circular motions, melt the sugar. Being stingy with the sugar here will help it melt easier before it burns. 

Let sit for 5 mins or so, then bon appetit


  1. I've never used xanthan gum. Is it readily available in stores?


  2. I don't know about readily.... It's something that's dry and should keep, so you might be able to get some through Amazon.