Vanilla Crème Brûlée Tart

Pies and Tarts

Yield: one 9-inch tart
Recipe: 111/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 109

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    The other day I had a lot of cream in my fridge and was looking for a recipe that would allow me to use it up. I found this recipe and thought that it sounded delicious – crème brûlée in the form of a tart, so more portions?! I’m in! I was not disappointed with this recipe. The vanilla flavour is very present but does not overwhelm the caramel crème brûlée flavour, rather, they are in perfect harmony. The texture of the tart itself is very pleasant and soft, and with the added crunch of the crème brûlée it is very pleasant. We found that this tart makes for a perfect late night snack! Definitely recommend.

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Sable Tart Shell, baked and cooled
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup + ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whipping cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Place the tray containing the baked and cooled tart shell on  a baking tray lined with parchment or foil.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks, whole egg and ⅓ cup sugar together.
  3. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the egg mixture and whisk them in. If using vanilla extract, whisk it in the egg mixture.
  4. Pour in the whipping cream while whisking the eggs. Pour this carefully into the pastry shell and use a paper towel to dab away any air bubbles that are on the surface of the custard.
  5. Carefully carry the baking tray to the oven and place it on the centre shelf. Place a dish filled with 1 ½ cups of boiling water near the tart pan. It can be placed below, above or besides the tart pan.
  6. Bake the tart for 40 minutes, until the tart is set but about 3 inches in the centre still have a little jiggle. Cool the tart to room temperature before chilling it in the pan for at least 2 hours.
  7. When you are ready to serve that tart, sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of sugar evenly over the top of the tart. Use a butane kitchen torch to carefully melt and then caramelize this sugar. Once it cools for 1 minute, it will be crunchy.

 

Valerie

Maple Crème with Almond Crackle

Custards, Puddings and Soufflés

Yield: 4 to 6 individual crème brûlées
Recipe: 87/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 192

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      Having plenty of cream in my fridge meant that I was going to make a custardy-type dessert, such as this maple crème topped with an almond crackle. It is not a crème brûlée per se because the top has not been coated with sugar that was burnt and caramelized to create the typical hard crust. In its place, a nut crackle is used to create the crunchy feeling usually obtained by the caramelization of the sugar. This is rather a lighter version of the classic dessert as it uses less whipping cream and half-and-half to complement it. I think that I accidentally slightly undercooked this dessert as the consistence of the inside was a bit less firm than I expected. I am still getting used to finding the right “jiggle” for custards and crème brûlées! Nonetheless, the dessert taste great and the addition of maple syrup made it decadent and flavorful.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cups half-and-half cream
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ⅔ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 recipe Nut Crackle (almond)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Arrange four 6-ounce (180 mL) ramekins or other baking dishes in a much larger baking dish that has sides that are at least the height of the ramekins.
  2. Whisk together all the ingredients (except the crackle). Pour them into the prepared ramekins.
  3. Pour boiling water around the ramekins so that the water comes up to about two-thirds of the height of the ramekins.
  4. Bake the crèmes between 35-45 minutes, until they are set around the outside but still jiggle a bit at the centre. Allow the custards to cool in the water-filled pan for 10 minutes, then carefully remove them from the water to cool to room temperature before chilling for at least 4 hours.
  5. The crackle can be prepared while the crèmes are in the oven. To serve, break the crackle into pieces and place the, on top of the crèmes immediately before serving.

Notes from Anna:

  • This is a lighter version of the original crème brûlée since the recipe calls for half-and-half cream as opposed to heavy (whipping) cream.
  • The brûlées can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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Valerie

Dulce de Leche Crème Brûlée

Custards, Puddings and Soufflés

Yield: 6-7 individual crème brûlées
Recipe: 79/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 191

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     Considering that I was, to my surprise, fairly successful in making the classic crème brûlées last time, I thought that I would be a little fancy and attempt the dulce de leche crème brûlée. Dulce de leche consists in sweet milk which can be obtained by caramelizing sugar in milk. I made the classic vanilla crème brûlée several months ago and sadly I had forgotten how delicious it was. I dare say, however, that this caramelized version is my favorite of the two. It gives the “burnt cream” a sweet taste that complements the cream well without overwhelming it.

    I have not yet mastered the art of caramelizing the sugar on the surface of the crème brûlée, but I think that I am getting a little better with practice. I followed Anna’s advice from the cookbook and caramelized two (actually three!) thin layers of sugar as opposed to a thick one to favor the formation of a hard surface. Perhaps it is not apparent here, but I assure you that the surface of these little crème brûlées was hard and cracked upon the first spoonful. I brought these at a movie night and let me assure you that they were a great success! Friends told me that this was one of their favorite desserts thus far. A scrumptious, sweet and creamy dessert awaits you if you make this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tin (300 mL) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 ½ cups whipping cream
  • 1 cup 5% half-and-half cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Sugar, for torching

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease six or seven 6-once ramekins and place them into a baking dish that is at least as high as the dishes.
  2. Pour the condensed milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepot and whisk in ½ cup of the whipping cream. Constantly stir the condensed milk mixture with a silicone spatula over medium heat until it thickens and caramelizes lightly to a golden brown color, about 13-16 minutes.
  3. Whisk in the remaining 1 cup of whipping cream and the half-and-half cream and bring this to just below a simmer. Make sure to whisk until the caramelized condensed milk mixture (dulce de leche) dissolves into the cream.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, egg and vanilla extract.
  5. Pour the condensed milk mixture into the eggs and whisk until the mixture is homogenous.
  6. Carefully pour this mixture into the ramekins. Pour boiling water around the ramekins so that the water comes at least halfway up the ramekins. Bake the custards for 30-35 minutes, until the custards are set at the edges but still jiggle in the middle. Let them cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then carefully remove to cool at room temperature before chilling for at least 3 hours.
  7. To serve the brûlées, sprinkle the tops of each of the custards with a thin layer of sugar, then melt and caramelize the sugar using a kitchen torch. Add a second layer of sugar and repeat. This technique builds a crunchy top that is less likely to burn than if you put on a thick layer of sugar.

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Valerie

Classic Vanilla Crème Brûlée

Custards, Puddings and Soufflés

Yield: 6 individual crème brûlée
Recipe: 74/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 190

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     A couple of weeks back I made what turned out to be delicious lemon possets, which I brought to work and let my coworkers devour. I think my boss particularly liked them, because a few days later he gave me some crème brûlée ramekins that he had bought me, in a subtle hint to let me know that it would be a good idea for my next dessert, I think. Having never really tasted crème brûlée and evidently having never made them, I was excited for this new challenge. I made them the week later and was pleasantly surprised. I always thought that it was an art form and quite difficult to make this sophisticated dessert, but it wasn’t. No doubt I could have demonstrated better skill when opening the fresh vanilla bean, but it was very fun and relatively rapid to do nonetheless. The delicious scent released by the vanilla beans and pod simmering in the cream was simply wonderful. I particularly enjoyed using my new kitchen torch to make the brûlée part of the crème brûlée. In retrospect, I should have put finer layers of sugar when caramelizing the sugar. I did two layers as suggested by Anna, but the surface was not as hard as I would have like. Nevertheless, this dessert was simply scrumptious and very satisfying! 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste)
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for torching

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place six 6-ounce ramekins into a baking dish that is at least as height as the ramekins. Boil some water for later use.
  2. Heat 2 cups of the cream with the scraped vanilla seeds and the vanilla bean to just below a simmer.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and remaining ½ cup of the cream.
  4. Slowly whisk the hot cream into the yolk mixture until blended. Divide this evenly between the ramekins and remove any air bubble present at the surface by using a paper towel to pop them. We want the surface of the custards to be silky smooth.
  5. Pour boiling water around the ramekins to about halfway up the sides and bake for about 25 minutes, until the outside of the custards are set but the centre is still a little bit jiggly. Cool the custards for 15 minutes in the water bath, then remove them to cool to room temperature before chilling in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
  6. To serve the crème brûlées, sprinkle the tops of each custard with a thin layer of sugar, then carefully melt and caramelize the sugar using a kitchen torch. Add a second thin layer of sugar and repeat the process. This ensures a crunchy and hard top.

Notes from Anna:

  • To scrape the seeds from a vanilla beans, first run a very sharp knife down the length of the bean to open it. Use the dull side of the knife and run it along the inside of the bean to remove the seeds. They will stick to your knife and be easily transferred to your cream to infuse the flavour.

Valerie