Halfway through last year, a few months after starting this blog, I decided that I should take the jump and buy myself a little kitchen blow torch. My custard-loving sister is always desirous of new desserts that elevate the humble custard beyond it’s status as yellow goop, and therefore Creme Bruleewas something that I wanted to make for her to see if it would win her over.
So, once I’d made the decision that I was going to make the financial investment into a blow torch, I immediately jumped up and headed for my local kitchen goods store. After a brief conversation with the rather unfriendly salesperson and forking over $50, I happily headed home with my new purchase clutched in my hands like some long-lost treasure, eager to give it a whirl. Once I got home, I ripped apart the packet and may or may not have given it a brief cuddle before pulling out the instruction sheet to read how exactly I was meant to operate my new toy.
It needed butane gas to fuel it to burny deliciousness, so I pulled out the gas cylinder from our portable stove, turned the torch upside down and rammed it’s top into the little insert at the base. And then screamed like a panicked little girly girl as gas proceeded to spill out all over the blowtorch and my hands. I dropped both the torch and gas cylinder, bolted inside to wash my hands, then reread the instructions. I was doing everything right, but why wasn’t it working?! Attempt after attempt, the gas refused to enter the cylinder of the blowtorch, till I eventually gave up at the rather insistant yelling of my mother (if you can call her repeated screams of “PUT THAT THING AWAY BEFORE YOU BLOW US ALL UP!” insistant, that is).
Yes, I really do draw this badly…
So, I sadly packed away the blowtorch and resigned myself to the thought that I may have just blown $50 on a utensil that I would not get to use even once. And yet, I couldn’t give up on the dream – I continued to be haunted by dreams of creme brulees, their caramelized tops dancing through my mind, the burnt sugar glistening like gold. A few weeks ago, I couldn’t take it anymore and ended up wailing to a friend of mine “Why? Why does the brulee-y goodness hate me? Why won’t it work? WHYYYYY?”. After answering his many questions, he finally said that I should just go to my local smoke-store (store that sells cigarettes, cigars and various smoking paraphernalia) and buy a little gas cylinder of the kind that is used to fill reuseable lighters, stating that perhaps the top of my camping-stove gas cylinder was the wrong type for this kitchen implement. I initially pooh-poohed this idea, but thought that it would be worth a try if it meant I could use my blowtorch, and then completely forgot about it.
Till last Friday, that is.
Walking down Elizabeth St towards the office, I walked past a store that bore the label of Smoke Mart and stopped dead in my tracks. A smoke store? But…that would mean that they have gas cylinders! I trembled slightly with anticipation, then quickly did an about turn and dashed into the store as fast as my little legs could carry me. I was greeted by the friendly sales assistant but had no time for pleasantries as I burst out “Gas cylinder. Lighter. Please”. She cautiously handed over the little gas cylinder and I eagerly grabbed it from her hands and popped the lid, and sighed. The top was indeed different from my gas cylinders at home. It was as if a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders, and I felt gloriously happy in the knowledge that finally, finally, I would be able to join the ranks of those who could brulee their creme!
As you can see by the photo, I’m yet to refine my blowtorching skills, but trust me when I say that there’s nothing that can stop me now! MU-HA-HA-HA!
P.S. Yes, I’m aware that you can brulee using the grill, but I was dead-set on using the blowtorch that I’d bought, and was not going to settle for this grilling business 😉
Creme Brulee(from ‘My Vue‘ by Shannon Bennett)
300mL double cream
100g caster sugar
8 egg yolks
2 vanilla beans, split lengthways and seeds scraped
100g soft brown sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 100 degrees C.
2. Mix the cream, milk, caster sugar, egg yolks and vanilla together till just incorporated. Do NOT use a whisk as having any bubbles will ruin the silky smoothness of the custard.
3. Pour the custard into 4x ramekins with approx 1 cup capacity each. Place a folded tea towel onto the bottom of a baking tray, then place the custards on top, this will stop the bottom of the custard from overheating and causing bubbles to form in your custard. Fill the baking tray with boiling water till it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins, then cover lightly with foil.
4. Bake the custards in the oven for about 35 mins, or till they have just set but are still wobbly in the middle. Remove from the oven and place in the fridge for about 30 mins to cool down.
5. Once completely cool, sprinkle a light layer of brown sugar on top and use a blowtorch or (if you’re not as obsessive as me) a preheated grill/broiler to glaze the top of each custard till the sugar is melted and turns a lovely amber colour. Repeat once or twice more if you want a thicker layer of caramel, then serve and sit back and listen to the sound of cracking caramel as everyone dives in 😉
[tags] creme brulee, french cuisine, custard, sweets, dessert, recipes, shannon bennett, caramel[/tags]