by Dorie Greenspan
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
½ cup whole milk 3 large egg yolks
1 / 3 cup sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
About 6 tablespoons sugar or sifted light brown sugar, for topping
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 200ºF. Put the six baking dishes on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Bring the cream and milk just to a boil.
In a 1 or 2-quart glass measuring cup or in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla together until well blended but not airy. Still whisking, drizzle in about one quarter of the hot liquid---this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the cream and milk. Give the bowl a good rap against the counter to de-bubble the custard, then strain it into the baking dishes. Place dishes in a larger dish (i.e. 9x13 pan) and pour water into the larger pan until reaches half way up the custard dishes.
Bake the custards for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the centers are set---tap the sides of the dishes, and the custards should hold firm. Lift the dishes onto a cooling rack and let the custards cool until they reach room temperature.
Cover each custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably longer. (The custards can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.) For the sugar to be successfully caramelized, the custards need to be thoroughly chilled.
Makes 6 servings.
Tips from Dorie:
- The most efficient way to caramelize the sugar topping is to use a blowtorch . If you don’t have a torch, you can chill the custards very, very well, then set them in an ice-cube-filled roasting pan and run them under the broiler. You won’t get as even a coating with the broiler as you would with the torch, but you’ll still get the flavor and the pleasure of a crackly sugar crust over cream custard.
- The best baking dishes for crème brûlée are shallow, ideally just an inch high, about 4 inches in diameter and holding about ¾ cup of liquid. Porcelain, pottery or glass gratin or baking dishes are perfect, but if you don’t have them, you can use ramekins or even disposable aluminum foil pans, an unglamorous but effective solution.
- Serve the crème brûlée when the crème is really cold and the brûlée is still warm. You can serve the whole dessert chilled, but the sugar topping won’t have its characteristic crackle. And while I think crème brûlée should be served with nothing more then a spoon, you could offer berries and cookies as accompaniments.
- The custard for crème brûlée must be made ahead so it has plenty of time to chill, but once you’ve caramelized the sugar on top, your storage time is over if your want the sugar to have crunch.