Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ina's Creme Brulee

Barefoot Bloggers is starting November out right! It's never a bad thing to start with dessert, right? I didn't think you'd disagree.

I adore creme brulee. Doesn't everyone? Well, except for freaks like my husband who have deep suspicion of anything creamy.

It's comforting, it's simple, it's slightly warm and pudding-like, it's rich...yeah, did I mention that to you? Well, let me mention it again--this dessert is rich.

But once in a while, a girl's gotta splurge, and this is a lovely way to do it.

Ina Garten's Creme Brulee
serves 5-6

1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon sugar per ramekin for topping
3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)

Preheat the oven to 300.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it's very hot to the touch but not boiled. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the vanilla and orange liqueur and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch* until the sugar caramelizes evenly.

Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

* What? You don't have a kitchen blowtorch lying around? Me neither. In fact, I'm pretty sure that me + kitchen blowtorch = bad idea. I had every intention of jettisoning the blowtorch and just popping the sugar-topped custards under the broiler for a minute or two.

But then I happened to be at a business dinner the day before I was going to make this recipe, and I was yammering on and on about the ridiculousness that is a kitchen blowtorch.

"Seriously?" I said. "Why on earth would someone buy a blowtorch for their kitchen needs? What kind of person owns a kitchen blowtorch?"

"I own one," said the very lovely, very charming woman sitting next to me. Who happens to be the wife of the senior partner of my husband's group.

That's me folks. I am smooth.

Luckily, she isn't one to hold a grudge. She even offered to lend Miss Motormouth her kitchen blowtorch.

Luckily, Awesome Stepkid R. was in the house this weekend. Rather than use my Parkinson's hands (and risk setting the kitchen ablaze), I begged him to torch my brulees.

And yeah, I was an annoying worrywart and hovered the entire time. Which made him nuts.

Verdict: This recipe rocks. It's easy to make, it's delicious, it's sexy looking. In fact, Awesome Stepkid R. and I decided that this is the perfect ending for The Love Food Meal.

I mean, how impressive is it to watch a man take a torch to dessert? Awesome.


  1. You are one cool stepmom to let him handle that thing! Your dessert looked perfect, but I'm with your hubs on the fact that creme brulee is too creamy and rich for me. I hope they have some ooey gooey chocolatey thing coming up soon. That, I'd be all over.

    LOL so hard at your dinner situation. You crack me up!

  2. Had a chef friend years ago who forwent (is that even a word?) the kitchen blowtorch for her husband's real mccoy torch from the garage. Seriously.

    Course, I'd start the house ablaze, so I just stick with the boring, and probably not so good, routine of sticking my ramekins under the broiler.

    Great post. Maybe that's how I'll get my kids to eat what's put in front of them. Let em torch it first. Then again, the oldest is only 6, so probably not a great plan...

  3. Just yesterday my youngest was craving creme brulee and we had a whole conversation about the blowtorch thing.

    William Sonoma here I come. Again.

  4. Creme Brulee is my FAVOURITE! Oh man, I have yearned for one of those torches for a while. Every time I see one I tell myself I don't really need it b/c I don't need to be able to make 10000 calorie desserts. But I do. I NEED it...

  5. So do you think it would be a bad idea to substitute a can of Aqua Net and a lighter for the blowtorch? We have a fire extinguisher and everything. It's just that there's definitely no blowtorch in my future and I fear the broiler THAT MUCH.

    I love that you put the blowtorch into a teenager's hands. I imagine you definitely scored points for that one.

    The idea of making creme brulee always intimidated me. Thanks for making it look less scary.

  6. What a great way to get awesome stepkid R in the kitchen! And yes, this would be a kick ass way to end any love dinner. He's a smart one that R!

  7. I too think that a kitchen blowtorch is ridiculous, but I still kinda want one!

  8. When my husband was a concierge, he rated restaurants by their creme brulee. In fact, he still does. As for me, while I love creme brulee, given a choice, I will pick chocolate lava cake.

    But you've given me a GREAT Christmas gift idea. The hubster would LOVE a kitchen blowtorch. Do you recommend any particular KBT?

  9. I would be doing the same thing. You have no idea how often I pry my mouth out of my foot.

    And for creme brulee, I'd do anything.

  10. YUM!!!

    Funny, I watched a show on HGTV this week where they redid someone's living and dining room around a creme brulee. I thought the walls looked a tad mustardy but your dessert looks just plain delicious.

    Oh yeah, a blow torch is my son's favorite kitchen tool! Definitely man's work!

  11. I'm asking Santa for a blowtorch. WTH was I doing using the broiler? Lemon meringue is also just plain rong without blue hotness.

  12. Okay I'm one of those freaks like your husband, but it's not the creamy thing it's the custardy thing. But what is weird is that I really want to make it. I even bought a creme brulee set which includes a mini torch. Now after your recommendation, I'll have to do this recipe!

  13. Yum yum yummy.
    And you would not want me with torch in hand....

  14. I LOVE creme brulee! I had it for the first time on my first "real" date with Hubs and I will never forget it. My friend has one of those blowtorches and well, we didn't do so well. Guess we just have to try again, aw shucks!

  15. Will you disown me if I tell you I've never had it?

    And is you house always this clean? It's beautiful.

  16. Creme Brulee' is my kryptonite. I can't resist but being a diabetic I have to, but I never do because I can't and I don't want to.

  17. It is one of my favorites too...but my hubby could pass on it. WEird!! Love it that you stuck your foot in your mouth at dinner...and you are so stinkin' cute!!

  18. I'm not a dessert/sweet eater so I've never tried Creme Brulee. Does that make me weird??
    My husband would LOVE a kitchen blowtorch. Not because he actually cooks anything, just because he loves 'gadgets'. Freak!

    Now I'm going to rant.......why is it that I kill myself at the gym twice a day, have never eaten Creme Brulee and am still a big mass of blubber and hail damage and you are standing there in your kitchen torching a mega calorie dessert looking like freakin' Kate Moss??
    It's just lucky I love you :-)

  19. I simply adore creme brulee! It is up there with sticky toffee pudding as ideal dessert...hmmm! Yeah the blow-torch is a bit 'hi-tech' gadgety but looks like it was very useful in the right hands! Hmmm xxxx

  20. I love all of Ina's recipes! This looks great!

  21. I love the recipe, and I love the story! I, too, have wondered what scary women have things like blow torches in their kitchens. Still boggles my mind, just a tad...

  22. Good thing your stepson likes you! :D

    I want a blowtorch now! I am not sure I could smuggle another kitchen tool in my kitchen though!

    Have an awesome weekend!

  23. I missed out on this recipe for the BB's. I adore creme brulee and I don't own a kitchen blow torch. My husband brings in his industrial propane tank and the nozzle and HE does it for me. It's way cool! I need to make this anyway. You had great success-- unlike your frustrating experience with souffle's!

  24. Hi Awesome Readers!

    I am at my parent's for the weekend and they have an ancient computer, so my time here will be's just too slow and painful!

    Thank you all for your kick-ass comments--I have the wittiest bunch out there.

    Leisa, you are not blubber and hail damage, but I'm giggling at the visual. You are Sheena Easton, remember?

    ck: go back to the pretzel post, sugar. My house is usually a sty. Truly.

    Wendi and Allegria: While the thought of using Aqua Net/lighter or a propane blowtorch makes me laugh/snort (Yeah, I'm one of *those*), I think those substances might add significant "funk" to the taste of the brulee, don't you?

    GEW...I'll ask any and all Stepford Wives with blowtorches which one is their favorite. I'll get back to ya!

    Off to shiver in front of the's snooooowwwwing again...

    Love you guys!

  25. Your blog is so dangerous to my waistline! But I AM a sucker for creme brulee.

  26. Unlike Jane, I am simply too lazy for any of these awesome dishes to affect my waistline. (Don't worry: eating white rice and Ramen noodles alone can have the same effect...) Let me count the ways I love this post:
    1. Creme Brulee? I LOVE Creme Brulee. I also LOVE Flan too.
    2. My husband (and also now the 2 boys) will not eat anything with "texture issues" either. Now when I get to order a flan, they look on with horror. Seriously, dudes?
    3. Blow Torch! 'nuff said.
    4. Hmm. I am surprised you let your teenage daughter supervise the other teenager using a blow torch. What's wrong with you woman? btw, the teenage daughter looks hot. I hope you are ok with me saying that. (Am I breaking any law?)
    5. Where can I get a blow torch?!

  27. Creme Brulee is my favorite dessert of all times!!

  28. I want a torch thingy! ;D

    Love Creme Brulee. I haven't had it in forever!

  29. We all make hideously embarrassing comments at one time or another- hate to tell you age does not help this problem.
    Anyway- I love creme brulee. And one would think at my age I would have been torching things forever. But I still don't own one. I use the broiler! (I hope my kids don't ever read this and present me with one!)

  30. Absence of Alternatives:

    Are you trying to butter me up? I haven't been called a hot teenager since...well, I was a hot teenager. Consider me buttered. You made my day!

  31. I answered on my blog re freezing the peppermint/chocolate cookies. I said I saw no reason why not but am now wondering what will happen to the peppermint candy pieces? You might want to stick a peppermint or candy cane in your freezer for a couple days to see if it "melts".
    Happy weekend!

  32. Ina's desserts are always awesome because she doesn't skimp on the good stuff. I never make creme brulee either because of the blowtorch factor...but you're right, the broiler might do just fine.

  33. I've actually never had it before. I've HEARD about it though...

    Sounds tasty!

  34. Cameron Diaz: "I could be jello."

    Julia Roberts: "You could never be jello! You are Creme Brulee."

    Cameron: "But I have to be jello!"

    (My Best Friend's Wedding)

    I HAVE A TORCH!! I could never be jello.
    I am totally CREME BRULEE! The perfect dessert!

  35. Mambo: Too funny! I was thinking about that scene when I made this dish...I can't forget poor Cameron Diaz's face when she says, "I have to to be jello!"

    I think that's the last film I ever liked her in--she was adorable in that one. But I'm a sucker for Dermott Mulroney...what IS it about that guy?

  36. Freaks like your husband! Ha!
    I have not ever made creme brulee, but I might be able to find a blowtorch nearby. So I might have to try. I will not, however, let any of my crazy children nearby. In fact, I will lock themselves upstairs, first. But then, they are much younger than your very adept stepson there.

  37. It is the perfect end of The Love Meal! I was at a restaurant that served the regular creme brulee and then five little samples of their different creme brulees on the side. It was awesome. And I have a torch because it came in the creme brulee kit my mom gave me that I haven't used yet.