Well, it pleased my crowd of one anyway. Crème Brûlée is one of my husband’s favorite desserts – until we started dating I had never experienced the wonderful goodness of creamy custard nestled under crunchy, caramelized sugar. Yet, despite my enthusiasm to create other GF-approved dishes, crème brulee seemed a kitchen ambition beyond my reach.
Then I dared to ask for a kitchen torch for Christmas, which of course I received as it indicated that I might try my hand at making this French treat at home on a regular basis. Six months later, I still didn’t have any Crème Brûlée-making courage.
Then I came across a recipe in Brew Food, an awesome cookbook full of boozipes that I received as a birthday gift from one of my favorite people (thanks Missy—you’re the best!).
For whatever reason, the dessert seemed less intimidating from the pages of Brew Food. Maybe having beer as an ingredient made it less bourgeoisie and more girl next door?
So, now I was tackling the dessert on my own terms. Less Crème Brûlée and more Crème Brew-lée. Having built in word-play — “Red, White and Brûlée” or even better IMO “Red, White and Brew-lée” — may have factored in to my decision to give it a go as well. Hey, timing is everything, right?
That said, I’m sorry to say I don’t have many pictures to share. I began my first Crème Brûlée making session with excitement and in a bit of a rush as we were at the beach and I was hoping to have a finished dish ready in time for a sunset picture on the patio (which did not happen). In fact, in my hurry, I almost forgot to document the process at all. When I did remember to grab the camera, I began shooting away: Pics of the porter-reduction simmering on the stove, a dozen egg yolks atop a mound of sugar, custard filled dishes nestled in a pan of warm water sliding into the oven – you get the idea. Then, after swatting my husband away so I could take a few shots of the prepared dessert, I realized I didn’t have the SD card in my camera. Gasp! Do these things happen to other people?
I read somewhere once that we are such creatures of habit we make the same mistakes over and over again. So I’ll admit, this is the second time I’ve made a dish and taken photos – without the card in the camera — in this blog’s short life. My goal is to not make the same mistake a third time. Must check camera when gathering ingredients.
However, there is good news to come out of my photo snafu: You can make the custard ahead of time, keeping it in the refrigerator or freezer up to a week. When it’s time to serve, thaw to room temperature, sprinkle with granulated sugar and then caramelize with the broiler or your kitchen torch. Viola!
So, while the photos you see here are from the Crème Brew-lée reenactment, the wow-factor you’ll get upon serving it will not be affected.
One last thing to share and then I’ll let you get busy in the kitchen. The original recipe uses a Karl Strauss Brewery’s Wreck Alley Imperial Stout, which wasn’t available in my area so I opted for Anchor Brewing’s porter (one of my favorites). I also replaced some of the cream in the original recipe with half a cup of Rumchata (I always want to add “cha-cha-cha” at the end when I say “Rumchata”). If you haven’t yet tasted this Cinnamon Toast Crunch-like goodness in a glass, I suggest you head to your nearest watering hole asap to grab a shot. Reminiscent of Baileys, this stuff is great to sip on all alone, as a shot, in coffee, paired with your favorite mixer as a cocktail – and of course to cook with. I suspect it will pop up in other TTCG boozipes in the near future. If you are in the know, and happen to own a bottle, go ahead and invest half a cup in your Crème Brew-lée. You’ll be glad you did.
2 cups of thick dark beer like a stout or porter. I used Ancher Brewing’s Porter
3.5 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup Rumchata
1 cup granulated sugar
12 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 shallow, oven-proof ramekins
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. While that’s pre-heating we’ll use the stove. Place the 2 cups of porter in a pan, bring to a slow boil and reduce to a ¼ cup.
2. Separate 12 egg yolks from their whites and place them is a bowl with 1 cup of sugar.
3. Place cream in a non reactive pan. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the cream. The pod can be used as an additional flavor enhancer by adding it to the cream while heating, remove and discard before whisking. Heat cream and vanilla slowly until steaming. When cream starts to steam remove from heat. Do not boil the cream.
3. While the cream heats through, whisk together egg yolks and sugar with wire whisk until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Pour about ½ cup of the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture whisking quickly to temper the mixture. In a slow stream, add the remaining hot cream to the egg mixture while continuing to mix with the whisk.
5. Add the reduced porter to the brûlée mixture and mix well. Divide the mixture evenly into six ramekins, and place them in a deep baking pan.
6. Fill the baking pan with hot water about half way up the sides of the ramekins and place in the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes, or until just set. Check for doneness by gently shaking the ramekins; the brûlée is finished baking when the edges are set/firm but the middle still jiggles a little. Place the ramekins in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to cool before serving.
Sprinkle the top of each brûlée with a thin layer of granulated sugar. With a kitchen propane torch point the flame onto the sugar and heat until it begins to melt and is deep golden brown color.
Use the broiler setting of your oven to brown the sugar by placing the brûlée about an inch away under the broiler flame/heat source for 20 to 30 seconds. Check frequently to ensure even browning.
For an additional twist on this classic, add your favorite fruit like strawberries, raspberries or banana slices to brûlée. Gently insert fruit pieces by pressing them into the cold brûlée and follow the same finishing instructios above.