I don’t as a matter of habit make creme brulee in the middle of the week. All blame for today’s extravagance is to be placed squarely on the slim shoulders of my son, who has picked Creme Brulee, or Burnt Cream, as the topic for his French project.

So, this is what I’ve discovered helping with this very important 3rd Grade assignment. Credit for this luscious vanilla-infused pudding, the declared favourite of both my children since a time when they, as chubby-cheeked tots, demanded their gran for ”kwem boolay,” is claimed by the old nemeses, England and France.

A late 17th century Frenchman, Francois Massialot, who describes himself as a chef to royalty and “people of first rank,” details creme brulee in a cookbook, and, in a later book, renames the recipe Creme Anglais, or English Cream. Cambridge’s Trinity College is celebrated as the birthplace of the same. We may as well throw the Spanish into the fray with their crema catalana, which is flavoured with cinnamon.

A version with chocolate can be found here.

The dessert’s ‘brulee’ is a layer of luscious, hardened caramel on top – which gets this way from the process of grilling or burning sugar over the custard.

And so, here’s how you can recreate a slice of heaven in your kitchen. This unplanned mid-week dessert turned out absolutely divine :D—- (that’d be drool)

  • heavy cream, 600 ml
  • caster sugar, 1/4 cup
  • egg yolks, 6
  • vanilla pod, 1

Prepare the vanilla pod by slicing it, but not through, and using a blunt spoon to scoop out the seeds
– Add vanilla seeds and cream to a pan and allow to simmer for a minute and take it off the heat

– In another bowl, cream the yolks and sugar
– Add a little hot cream to the yolk-sugar mixture, then slowly add all the cream to the yolks, whisking continually

– Preheat the oven to 150C, about 275F
Sieve the hot custard into ramekins

– Place ramekins in a deep roasting dish, pour hot water halfway up the sides of the ramekins
– Bake the custards for about 30-45 minutes. When done, they will be a little wobbly in the centre

– Allow to cool and refrigerate

– Remove the custards from the fridge hours later, or a day later, add about 2 tablespoons of sugar on each of them and place directly under a preheated broiler

– Grill, watching closely for a couple of minutes and remove as soon as the sugar has melted

– Once they’re outside the oven, the caramelized sugar will settle into a hardened layer on top

– Serve with a cast iron spoon and oversized bib to preempt dribbling

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