May 31, 2011

Orange-Scented Creme Brulee

The problem with blogging about things made for dinner parties is that there is limited time for taking lovely photos. I realized halfway through dessert that I had zero pictures of my finished creme brulee. So let me tell you about it: it was delightful, delicately flavored with both orange and vanilla. The custard was dense and perfectly smooth. The sugar layer didn't quite crackle and harden under my broiler (my rack was definitely too far down), but it melted enough for a satisfying crack through the top layer. And the whole thing was actually quite simple. Best of all, you can make it the night before and just stick it in the fridge until you're ready to pop it under the broiler for the crispy top sugar layer.

Orange-Scented Creme Brulee
Cobbled together from a bunch a recipes, including Alton Brown's

Short on ramekins and with a longish guest list, I made one big brulee in a 9x9 glass baking dish, and two small ones for the boys. 

Baked but not topped

10 egg yolks
4 cups heavy cream
zest of one large orange
juice of 1/2 of said orange
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325.

Heat cream, vanilla and orange zest and juice in a large saucepan, and remove from heat as soon as it comes to a boil.

Meanwhile, beat yolks with sugar until thoroughly mixed and the yolks lighten in color a bit. Add the cream about a half cup at a time, stirring constantly. Pour mixture into large glass baking dish or individual ramekins. Place dish(es) in a deep baking or roasting pan, and fill the outside dish with enough hot water to come about halfway of the sides of the ramekins/ baking dish.

Carefully move to the oven and bake until the custard is set, but the middle is still quite wobbly. You should be able to lay a finger on it, but it should shake like undercooked jello. Remove from oven and chill until cold, at least three hours for a large dish. Can be stored at this point for up to three days.

Remove from fridge for 5-30 minutes before sprinkling about 1/4 cup sugar evenly over the top (a sifter helps with even coverage).  Either broil until the sugar melts and crisps (watching very carefully, sugar burns in a flash. This should take about 3 minutes, if your rack is close enough to the top of the oven), or use a kitchen torch.

You can serve creme brulee warm or cold. For warm, let sit for about 5 minutes before serving. If you prefer it cold (like me!), put back in fridge for about 30 minutes, up to two hours. Much longer than that, and you'll start to lose some of the crunch of the top layer.

Serves about 10.

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