Wednesday, February 24, 2010

White Chocolate Cinnamon Crème Brûlée: A Practical Guide

If there is one superfluous thing in the world, it is crème brûlée.
Instead of being content to be a simple cup of creamy custard, crème brûlée is somehow entitled to become a custard with a caramelized top, thus transcending an ordinary custardian experience. Thus, it has become the standard-bearing dessert of upper-crust society, hob-nobbers, and aristocrats.

Truly, such a lofty luxury was beyond the grasp of the less-privileged... until now.
Yes, now even the grubbiest street urchins can taste the sweet delights of the educated classes.
Of course, it's all thanks to this simple recipe:

You will need:

A brief education of the English language
Elementary reading skills
A kitchen
An oven or other enclosed heating implement
One cup of very heavy cream
3/4 cup of milk, preferably from a cow
2 sticks of cinnamon
1/4 cup of sugar
85 grams of white chocolate
4 egg yolks, preferably from a chicken
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

You'll also need things like spoons, bowls, and hands, but who wants to read such a long list? No one.
First, put your cream, milk, and cinnamon sticks into a saucepan. Cook it over lowish heat until it boils. Don't be discouraged: this will take a very long time. If you are hurried, cook it over high heat and reap the consequences. Regardless, remove it from the heat and cover it, letting it sit for twenty minutes.

If you are a gentleman or lady of leisure, use these twenty minutes to catch up on your correspondence. If you are middle-class or lower, do something constructive, such as preparing the next part of the recipe.

Preheat your oven to 320 (degrees Fahrenheit), and whisk your egg yolks and sugar together with the ground cinnamon. If using ostrich eggs, note that they are large and that you may have to triple the recipe. If using fish eggs, be prepared to use quite a few.

Combine the milk mixture and the egg mixture. Pour the resulting glop back into the pan and heat it until the custard is nice and thick (it will easily coat the back of a wooden spoon or the front of your face).

Here, you have several options:
If you are rich and can afford a quality sieve, pour the custard through the sieve into the ramekins, thus separating the cinnamon sticks from the custard.

If you have no disposable income, use an inferior sieve. The end result will be the same.

If you cannot afford an inferior sieve, hold out your hand and pour the custard through your fingers. Catch the cinnamon sticks as they pass through.

Next, regardless of socio-economic status, place the ramekins in a deep baking dish. Fill said dish with boiling water until the water level is the same height as the custard level. Bake this for 30 minutes or so, depending upon the size of your ramekins. When it's done baking, you'll know. If it is severely over-baked, the fire department will probably let you know.

After you've baked the custard, put it in the refrigerator until cooled (about two hours, depending on the temperature of your fridge). If you have no refrigerator, now is a good time to worry about how you will be storing your cream and eggs.

After you've waited long enough, sprinkle some sugar over your custard and blast it with your culinary torch. More sugar will net you a thicker caramelized topping, obviously.
If you have no culinary torch, you can set your ramekins directly under the broiler for a similar effect. If you have no broiler, use the hair spray and lighter method to approximate a culinary torch.

Good luck with that.

This recipe was scrupulously adapted from an eerily similar recipe at Technicolor Kitchen, by the way.


  1. I'm a fan of the notion that scones can be exclamatory. :-)

    Isn't it incredible how scarily flammable most hair and other toiletry products are. But there is nothing quite like cracking the resulting crispy creme brulee crust - it's a little adventure of sorts - thus worth the risk of any make-shift pyromaniac mishaps.

  2. "You will need:
    A brief education of the English language
    Elementary reading skills
    A kitchen...
    You'll also need things like spoons, bowls, and hands, but who wants to read such a long list? No one."

    I like your sense of pragmatism. I may have to try this, but with my broiler and not my hair spray!

  3. Hmm... I'm not sure why it never occurred to me to use my broiler for creme brulee. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Also, what if I use emu eggs? Or rather, one emu egg yolk? Should I just double the recipe?

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