I had an ambitious moment today at Sur La Table. I noticed they had kitchen torch propane in stock so I scooped it up and decided to make creme brûlée for my September challenge. Like, three weeks early, huh? Some back story: I have probably owned a kitchen torch for about five years, but the couple times I wanted to buy propane for it, Sur La Table or Williams-Sonoma (really, the only times I even had the thought to buy torch propane were in these stores, on a whim) they were sold out. Not this time! I had to stop by TJ’s on the way home so I looked up the ingredients for creme brûlée and luckily they are pantry staples so all I had to grab at the store was heavy cream.
Turns out the process for creme brûlée doesn’t have all that many steps. But it ALSO turns out that some of those steps can be tricky. I did poor research for this particular challenge, so while one potential slip-up was noted, the other was not. Let’s proceed!
First I put two cups of cream, along with 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg on the stove to heat for about three minutes. DO not boil that shit! While that is heating I preheat the oven to 300 and mix two eggs+2 egg yolks with 1/2 cup of sugar in a separate bowl.
Now listen, here is where it gets tricky. You can’t overheat the cream because if it is too hot and you add it to those sugary eggs you will cook the eggs and they will be scrambled sugar eggs. I DID note this, so I slowly added the cream, a little bit at a time, so the eggs did not freak out on me.
Then I went off the rails, I guess. I mixed and mixed until it got nice and thick and frothy. DO NOT DO THIS. You are actually supposed to have a relatively watery custard mix at this point, and you don’t want air un-densing your custard while it cooks.
This guy knows the score:
Anyway, next time I will a) use a bowl and whisk, and not the stand mixer, and b) slowly stir the ingredients together, popping any bubbles with a torch before filling the ramekins.
So moving on. I was a little worried that I had scrambled eggs so I ran the mix through a sieve before putting them in the ramekins, which also got out some clumps of nutmeg, and lucky me, no eggs pieces.
Then I poured the mix into the ramekins and added hot water to the pan so they cook in a water bath.
While they were cooking I noticed a foamy crust started to brown on the creme brûlées, which is when I googled around and found out that I had over-whipped my batter. Ruh-roh. But the show goes on!
I hope there was some wiggle-room on account of the sugar topping so I kinda scraped the brown layer off the top and then popped them into the fridge for a couple hours to cool.
Here is Brent texting me about how excited he is to try my franken-brûlées:
Now this may surprise you, but scraping the skin off incorrectly prepared creme brûlée is not a cure-all! After chilling the desserts, I pulled out a couple, topped them with a generous amount of sugar, and torched em.
The sugar crust was actually the best done part of the dessert! It was crispy and delicious, and was in no way indicative of the disappointment that lay below.
It seemed just…undercooked. It was loose and lumpy and not good. But the other ramekin was a little smaller so I gave it a shot to see if it cooked any better.
As you can see below, though, the texture was still off, and I ended up tossing the rest.
This was probably the biggest fail so far of my cooking challenges. On the bright side, however, the ingredients are relatively cheap, and it is kind of a quick thing to put together, so there is the outside chance that I will attempt this again before the month is through! I mean, I still have all the propane left, right?!