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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

TWD: Creme Brulee

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When I saw that this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection was Creme Brulee, my heart did a little happy dance. I adore everything about creme brulee, from that first tapping of your spoon through its crispy, crackly, caramelized sugar crust, to that first heavenly mouthful of soft, rich, creamy vanilla-kissed custard. The supreme indulgence!

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Over the years, I have eaten more than my fair share of creme brulee. As a matter of fact, when I was in Paris last summer, I think I probably ate my weight in the stuff! The funny thing is, I've never made it at home. I've made lots of flans, custards and creme caramels, but never a brulee. Why, you ask? Because I've always been terrified of the blowtorch!

When I was a toddler, I was involved in a terrible accident resulting in third degree burns on over a third of my body. I spent several weeks in the hospital and miraculously, I pulled through. Though my face was unscathed, I had much scarring everywhere else. Thankfully, most of it faded over time and now, they are barely discernible. Since then, I have been deathly afraid of fire.

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I almost decided to just do a rewind recipe instead this week. But, since I did have a little kitchen torch, still sitting in its box, that I had gotten as a gift several years ago, I decided that it was now or never. I read the instructions through and through, and practiced a few times to get comfortable. I still didn't like doing it, but it was okay. I felt kind of proud of myself for staring my fear in the face.

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Since the traditional vanilla creme brulee is my favorite, I made half of mine that way. For the rest, I added some instant espresso powder and made coffee creme brulee.

Dorie's recipe is dead easy and the custard came together in no time flat. Baking it took forever, though! The recipe says to bake at 200 degrees F. for 50-60 minutes. However, some of mine took at least 90 minutes to set up. I think it had to do with the size and depth of my containers. The deeper cups were the ones that took a lot longer. So, if you ever try this recipe, be mindful of that.

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The custard itself is a bit lighter and not quite as rich as some others I've had, but it was perfectly velvety and absolutely delicious. Some of my caramelized sugar did get a little too browned, but it was just the right thickness and crackled into beautiful little shards. I'm so glad that I rose to this challenge, and I'm looking forward to making creme brulee again soon!

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Many thanks to Mari of Mevrouw Cupcakes for choosing this great recipe. If you'd like to see some other creative interpretations of creme brulee, visit the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll. The recipe cam be found on Mari's site as well as in Dorie's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

56 comments:

Audrey said...

I can't decide which of your presentations (and which of your dishes) I like the best. Oh, well, I'll just have to keep looking at all of them. Great job, as always!

Sandy Smith said...

You. Go. Girl! You are awesome for facing your fears head-on and conquering them!! (And then eating them!)

Your creme brulee looks spectacular, of course. I'm glad you decided to go for it.

Zoe Francois said...

These look incredible. I adore lots of caramel on my creme brulee so I'll take the wide oval, Please! Nice job with the blow torch.

vibi said...

Everytime I get close to hitting the bloglines' button to get to your blog... I almost hold my breath! LOL Just cause I know I'll be surprised and in total awe of what you do... visualy and creatively!
Once again, I'm not dissapointed!
BRAVO!

Darius T. Williams said...

really really great pics - I love this!

-DTW
www.everydaycookin.blogspot.com

Dianne said...

You faced your fear and what a stunning result! Bravo! :)

Rachel said...

Beautiful pictures--I love your accessories!

Engineer Baker said...

Kudos on overcoming your fears - they turned out perfectly! And the coffee version - that would have been what I went with if I had a kitchen torch, so I'm super jealous :)

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

I love your vanilla bean bundles! So glad that you're a crème brûlée lover too!

CECIL said...

That's quite a challenge you put yourself into and you aced it!! :) As for these nice beauties you made, I chime in with the others. I am not sure which one I like better..the creme brulee itself or the presentation1! I LOVE BOTH!

Cathy said...

How wonderful that you conquered your fears to make this. What wonderful results! It was so surprising to me how relatively easy this was to make. I'll definitely make this again. I am glad that you loved this -- your pictures are fantastic!

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Those look so good Susan!!! I am with you though on the fire fear! Brave girl!

Peter M said...

I just cracked my PC screen trying to break the hardened brulee! lol

They look awesome...still one of the best desserts.

Maryann said...

oooo..how pretty! :)

pinkstripes said...

Your pictures are gorgeous. I love the hodge-podge of dishes.

Debbie said...

Your dessert looks delicious...wish I could just dip my spoon into the computer screen and help myself to some!!!!

Debbie said...

Your dessert looks delicious...wish I could just dip my spoon into the computer screen and help myself to some!!!!

Anonymous said...

It looks really good, but you spelled it wrong.

Sarah said...

Your creme brulee looks wonderful! I like the coffee idea, next time I make this, I will have to try that. Cute way of serving them too. Looks great in the coffee cups!

Bellini Valli said...

I love the creme brulee trios you can get in all the restaurants these days. I was thinking of making Pumpkin brulees for Thanksgiving but I need a torch!!!!!

Steph said...

They're beautiful!! It's ok the sugar got a little too brown, it's all about the shards of sugar!

Manggy said...

Congratulations on a successful first time! Coffee creme brulee sounds absolutely delicious! (As does the original, of course :)

Gretchen Noelle said...

You got me hook, line & sinker with your espresso creme brulee in it's own little coffee cup. Heaven!!!

Kevin said...

That creme brule looks so good!

Heather B said...

Great job! It looks so yummy! I love the coffee flavor!

Lori Lynn said...

I like your extra browned crust. Years ago I worked for a restaurant company, and when we tested the creme brulee at the restaurants, it had to have what was called the "titanic effect" when tapped with the back of a spoon it should break into shards like an iceberg...

steph- whisk/spoon said...

they look great, and good for you for facing your fears!

Louise said...

You sure know how to dress up a beauty of a dessert. Gorgeous!

FFichiban said...

Oohh they all look great but I've never tried coffee creme brulee before :O so I really wanna try that one!

joanne at frutto della passione said...

I think you have created a new form of therapy. Cook or bake your fear and eat it! Great work as always Susan!

The Food Librarian said...

Bravo to you for facing your fears! The brulees look fantastic. I love the coffee infusion...I'll try that next time!

Maria said...

Nice looking brulee! Love the photos!

Joanna said...

What a horrible story that you were hurt so badly when you were little! So sorry.

They all look AMAZING.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Yum. I'm glad you took the fire risk and made this. It's beautiful. I have a little kitchen torch too, but I've never used it because I haven't been able to find the cartridges for it.

Cakespy said...

Oh my, how I would like to munch on one of those beautiful little shards!! Looks absolutely mouthwatering!

Prudy said...

What a gorgeous dessert-but I don't blame you a bit for fearing fire. What a terrifying memory for you!

My Sweet & Saucy said...

Your creme brulee looks mouthwateringly good!

Marthe said...

Two different tastes, wow! It was the first time of making crème brûlée for me, but I will certainly be making these again!

maggie said...

Congrats on doing this—I'm too intimidated but yours look great!!

Rebecca said...

Way to go for picking up that torch and mastering this technique, despite your fear. You got chutzpah!

kim said...

way to face your fears!! beautiful photos and presentation. i always am jealous of your ribbons :) the espresso flavor sounds yummy!

Kristen said...

Creme Brulee is one of my favorite desserts, but like you, I still have a torch waiting to be used in my cabinet! I think all you TWD participants have inspired me to get it out!

Jules Someone said...

Oh my oh my do these look delicious! Nice work.

noble pig said...

Oh I love it too and the vanilla beans tied in a bow! Perfect!

Jenny said...

Gorgeous pictures of your creme brulee! I so wish I had some right now!

Nicole said...

Wow what a scary and horrible story from your childhood!

But your creme brulee... oh my... you creme brulee... It is one of my allll time favorite desserts if it is GOOD! And I haven't had it in ages.

Proud Italian Cook said...

I'll take the coffee creme brulee!
I'm glad you overcame your fear and conquered!!

Heather said...

how pretty! i love it in the tea cups! the colors of the sugar are beautiful and i love the lavender topping! looks tasty :)

Y said...

Beautiful brulees! I don't blame you about being scared of fire or the blowtorch.. I haven't had any bad childhood experiences with it, but I'm still wary every time I use it!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Good job with the torch this week and pushing through a fear. What a horrible thing to have happen as a child (or any time). Your photos are stunning, and I love that you baked them in a cup! Very creative.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

What a lovely presentation, Susan! I, too, love creme brulee and have always been terrified by the torch idea. I'm so sorry you went through such a horrid accident as a child!

Cakelaw said...

Congratulations on facing your fears and doing a great job of this classic dessert. I am a huge fan of creme brulee but have never tried to make it.

LyB said...

Your brulées look perfect! And coffee, wow, I am definitely going to try that! I make lots of jokes about having fun this week, playing with fire, but I can understand your fear of it. Glad you made them though, they're beautiful! :)

Tartelette said...

Great job of facing your fears! All the creme brulees look fantastic!

Lynnylu said...

Your brulees look great in the cups and ramekins. Nice job!

Brilynn said...

Love your photos, the brulee looks great!