Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Raspberry Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee

In high school I worked for a restaurant that served a raspberry vanilla bean creme brulee dessert. I loved caramelizing the sugar, and it was one of my favorite desserts to order. For Christmas I got a kitchen torch, so I've been trying lots of different creme brulee recipes. This one's from Creme Brulee by Whitecap Books. Recipe instructions are verbatim from the book. I added the raspberries on my own.


1 vanilla bean
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
8 egg yolks
1/4 cup superfine sugar
3 tbsp confectioner's sugar


1. Slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and put it in a saucepan. Pour the cream into the pan, then bring almost to a boil. Take off the heat and allow to stand for 15 minutes for the vanilla flavor to develop. 

2. Lift the vanilla bean out of the cream and, holding it against the side of the saucepan, scrape the black seeds into the cream. Discard the bean casing. 

3. Use a fork to mix together the eggs and sugar in a bowl. Reheat the cream, then gradually mix it into the eggs and sugar. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan. 

4. Place 6 ovenproof ramekins or custard cups in a roasting pan then divide the custard between them. Pour warm water around the dishes to come halfway up the sides, then bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until the custards are jus set with a slight softness at the center. 

5. Leave the dishes to cool in the water, then lift them out and chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours. About 25 minutes before serving, sprinkle the tops with confectioner's sugar (no need to sift). Caramelize using a blowtorch then leave at room temperature. 

TIP: One teaspoon of vanilla extract can be added to the egg yolks in place of a vanilla bean in the cream. 

My notes

I've made this twice. The first time it was awesome. I followed the recipe except that I scraped the black seeds out of the vanilla bean before boiling the cream (but still left the bean in for the boiling/15 minutes) and I didn't reheat the cream. It took 10-15 minutes longer to cook than indicated, maybe because the cream was cooled. The second time I reheated the cream a bit and set the timer for too long - they browned around the edges. The second time the custard tasted a bit eggy in parts - this may be because of cooking it for too long, but it may also be that I didn't separate the eggs well enough (there might have been some egg white in the mixture). 

Also, I put granulated sugar into the food processor for a couple of minutes to make it "superfine," and I use this same sugar for caramelizing (instead of powdered sugar). 

I did use vanilla beans both times, but I've since bought vanilla paste that I'm going to use in the future. I'll probably add it to the yolks.

When I've made it, I added 4-6 raspberries to the cups before pouring in the custard. Also, we don't have traditional ramekins, so I use our little Corel bowls and just make 4. 

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