Classic Crème Brûlée
Crème brûlée can be flavored endlessly, but this simple classic version is one of the best.
Total Time 3 hours
Prep Time 30 mins
Difficulty Level Medium
2 cups heavy cream
1 3-inch vanilla bean spilt lengthwise
2 tsps vanilla extract (if you do not have the vanilla bean)
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsps Grand Marnier or other brandy, optional
6 tbsps sugar for topping
Pour the cream into a medium saucepan, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream, and add the vanilla pod.
Bring just to the simmer over moderate heat.
Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Remove the vanilla pod and scrape any remaining seeds into the cream. If using extract instead, add it now.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale in color. Whisk in the 1/2 cup granulated sugar until dissolved. Gradually whisk in the cream. Stir in the Grand Marnier if using.
Place six 6-ounce ovenproof ramekins in a baking pan. Divide the custard mixture among the dishes.
Pour hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the dishes.
Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center of each custard still jiggles slightly. Remove from the oven and lift the dishes from the hot water. Let cool, then cover each and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
When ready to serve, place the dishes on a baking sheet. Evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon brown or granulated sugar over each ramekin.
Using a hand-held blowtorch, caramelize the sugar by holding the torch about 4 inches from the surface of each custard and moving the torch to brown and caramelize the sugar evenly.
Alternately, preheat the broiler and place the pan about 4 inches from the heat source; watching carefully, broil until the sugar turns golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes.