French Fridays with Dorie: Crème Brulée

Crème brulée is one of my favorite desserts to order in a restaurant. It had never occurred to me that I could make it at home. Crème brulée was this week’s assignment for French Fridays with Dorie, and, so, the challenge was on.

I’d never made custard before. First, you heat the cream and milk. I chose to do this in the microwave, but lacking experience, I think I should have done it on top of the stove. I didn’t want the milk to boil over, but I wasn’t sure how long it would take. It was hard to see through the glass of the microwave, so I would have been better off just using a pot on the stovetop — much easier to watch.

Then, you whisk together egg yolks and sugar, and gradually add the hot milk until it’s all combined. My custard was overly foamy, even after a lot of rapping the container on the counter, so I skimmed off the layer of foam.

For a new twist on crème brulée, Dorie has you spread a spoonful of jam on the bottom of each dish. I had both raspberry and strawberry jams that I made this summer, so I made 3 with each flavor.

I didn’t have the exactly right-sized dishes for the crème brulée, but used what I had. None of my dishes were quite as wide as the 4 inches suggested, so my custards took longer to cook. Rather than spending an hour in a low oven, my custards needed more like 90 minutes to set. Then, after cooling, the crèmes spent the night in the refrigerator.

The final step, the bruléeing, called for family fun. For some reason, Howard had a butane torch in the basement, so I called on him to conduct the caramelization step. I don’t know whether I layered the sugar on too thick. Initially, the sugar flamed up like roasted marshmallows do, leaving little burnt spots on top. The sugar wasn’t really melting. We watched a couple of YouTube videos to see how it’s done. It worked better when he held the flame closer and moved the flame around faster.

Howard the Torcher

I have to let you in on a secret though. I’m actually the only one at our house that likes custard, so we only tried out one so far. This step will require more practice. The sugar wasn’t quite as crusty as I’ve had at restaurants, but there are 5 more dishes to try this on.

Overall, I liked my home-rendition of crème brulée. I liked the hint of fruit in the bottom of the dish. This would definitely be fun to serve to company, but no one was coming over before Friday. I’ll see if I can share some of the other 5 dishes in the fridge.

I’m looking forward to reading about what my fellow FFwD bloggers thought about this week’s recipe. Check out their links at French Fridays with Dorie. We don’t post the recipes, but consider getting your own copy of Dorie Greenspan’s book, Around My French Table.

Merry Christmas to all, and, to all, a good night!


Posted on 23 December 2011, in French Fridays with Dorie and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Oh, what a snack to have all to your self :-)
    Glad these worked out for you.

    Merry Christmas – hope you have a wonderful holiday!

  2. Lucky you! It’s always a joy when you have a little treat that you don’t need to share. Looks like this was quite a success for you, and Howard looks like he had fun with the torch!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family! Happy French Friday!

  3. I’m not sure that I would share those, Betsy. :) I had a time with the brown sugar one and it burned in quite a few places, but fared much better with raw sugar. I skipped the fruit this time, but do want to try it sometime. Isn’t it funny that men seem to have torches in their arsenal? I was amazed when John brought out his big one! I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

  4. I found even if the person doesn’t like custard, they’re always willing to help with the torching, guys especially. Happy holidays!

  5. How awesome! I love when the family gets involved in the Dorie recipes at our house, it makes it less of a personal hobby and something to look forward to!
    I don’t think mine was as good as I could order at a restaurant, but the flavor was much better and my choice of fresh fruit made it that much better, so overall – I’m with you, great at home too! And easy to make! :) Happy Christmas!

  6. I would consider it a lovely victory if I were the only one in my house that enjoyed this dish. I felt like a horrible mother when we had our young sons on a business trip to Paris (unusual for us to get such an opportunity but all the more appreciated) and they kept wanting some of mine. I would gladly get them their own but they only wanted to “test” mine. I did give them the treat but realized that when there was a bit of begrudingness on my part- this was a true love dessert:) And I was chuckling at the thought of your hubby having the torch on hand without you realizing he owned one. Too real ! Happy holidays !

  7. I’m glad you were successful with your first custard and your first creme brulee. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!!!

  8. It looks lovely, Betsy. I didn’t have the right dishes, either, but want to try this again some time. I see proper brulée dishes in my future!

    Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

  9. Lucky you, 6 whole desserts all for yourself! My husband loves creme brulee and I always have to watch him carefully when there is dessert in the house to make sure that I get to have some as well.

    By the way, probably a bit late, but one more tip for your torching technique, the kind of sugar you use also plays a role. Regular brown sugar will not caramelize very well because it has too much moisture in it. If you can’t find brownulated sugar (which is brown sugar with the consistency of granulated white sugar) you should just use regular granulated white sugar.

  10. I love that you watch you tube to find out stuff cos I do that too!
    Your brulee looks great and while I missed this challenge it’s definitely one I plan to catch up on!

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