Crème Brulée is, in my humble opinion, France’s greatest contribution to the dessert world. It’s pure, creamy, sugared, vanilla bliss. Unfortunately, the best crème brulée recipes generally call for roughly three egg yolks for every cup of heavy cream. Three egg yolks is not an even number! How will I ever minimalize this recipe to fit the single cook? Already, I have two challenges to overcome. First, crème brulée and egg yolks are synonymous terms. Given there are no substitutions, exceptions or omissions to this rule, it is important that a core ingredient of this recipe be one whole egg yolk. Second, vanilla, vanilla paste, and vanilla beans are all expensive items. On average, you would use a whole vanilla bean for a recipe of 6-8 servings, but I didn’t necessarily want to run out and spend $10 bucks on a vanilla bean when I would only need a small piece. Enter my newfound friend Mr. Vanilla Paste. Yet again, vanilla paste proves to be one of the most versatile tools in the single baker’s kitchen.
Prep Time: 10 minutes Bake Time: 20-25 minutes
Rest Time: 20 minutes – 4 hours Makes: 1 serving
1 egg yolk
1½ tablespoons of sugar
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 tablespoon of sugar for the burnt topping
1 x 5oz ramekin or 2 x 2.5oz ramekins
Crème Brulée torch
1. Preheat the oven to 325º. Prepare a baking sheet by placing a 5 ounce ramekin in the center of a 9 x 9 pan. Measure out 2 cups of water in a liquid measuring cup and set aside for step 4.
2. Combine the heavy cream, vanilla and vanilla paste in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Strain and set aside to cool.
3. Next, in a small mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolk and 1½ tablespoon sugar until the sugar is dissolved. The mixture will be pale yellow in color and should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Then, slowly pour the cream into the egg yolk mixture whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling.
4. Strain the egg yolk mixture into the prepared ramekin. Place the pan, with the crème and ramekin, in the center of a preheated oven. Once in the oven, add enough water to the 9×9 pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekin being careful to not accidentally pour any water in the crème.
6. Bake at 325º for 20-25 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when you tap the side of the dish and the crème is “set” at the center with a little jiggle of movement! Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
7. Once the dish is cool enough to touch, cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for 4 hours to chill (Note: You could also place it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes if you’re all in a brulée!)
8. Time for the burnt sugar – remove the Crème Brulée from the refrigerator, or freezer, and evenly distribute 1 tablespoon of sugar over the top of the dish. Using a crème brulée torch, slowly melt the sugar. You might want to let it cool for 1-2 minutes before digging in!