Crème brûlée is one of those special treats in life. A reward to give yourself for a job well done. It seems so elegant that one would think that it’s almost impossible to make in a home kitchen. However, you’d be surprised to know just how simple it really is. Just 4 ingredients and some TLC and you’ve got yourself a French café styled treat in the palm of your hands.
If you can get the base recipe down pat, then you can make every flavor that is out there in the world, just do a little substitution here, add a little something there. The 4 ingredients you need are eggs, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. That’s it!
In continuation from my last post, I was going to a Japanese themed dinner party and this was my second dessert: Japanese version of crème brûlée, specifically green tea crème brûlée. To make this version, I had to modify the base recipe slightly to achieve the right balance of consistency and taste and color. At the end of this blog, I’ll discuss why I ended up serving my third batch and threw out my first two.
Basic Recipe Ingredients
¾ cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp sugar
2 egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla extract
Max’s Modified Ingredients for green tea version
3/8 cup heavy cream
3/8 cup regular 2% fat milk
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp sugar
2 egg yolks
¼ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp green tea powder (matcha) – I used the one from Ten Ren.
- Preheat over to 300 degrees F
Heat the milk and cream with the green tea powder and sugar over medium heat. Stir and make sure that both sugar and powder has completely dissolved. The green tea powder is a bit stubborn so you’d have to stir pretty vigorously to avoid clumping. Heat until bubble appears and set aside to cool off.
Beat the egg yolk and vanilla.
Take care in this step because we will be adding a hot liquid to a raw egg. This process is called tempering the egg. What that means is to slowly bring up the temperature of the egg while slowly cooling down the liquid. If you do it too fast, you could end up with scrambled eggs and that wouldn’t make a nice crème brûlée, that’d be called breakfast. So here is how I did it: Drop a small amount of liquid into the eggs while whisking vigorously. Drop another small amount while still whisking. If the egg + liquid mixture didn’t produce solids, then you are good to go. Slowly but continuously pour the rest of liquid into the egg while whisking.
Divide the mixture into ramekins. Here, I have four 3oz. ramekins.
Put them in the oven in a water bath. Make sure that the water level is about halfway up the ramekins. This keeps the custard soft and silky. Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and chill them for at least 2 hours.
When you are ready to serve them, dust the top with a little bit of sugar. Distribute evenly around the ramekin by gently tapping on the sides.
This is the fun part. I usually let the people who are going to eat it do this step. For some reason, people like to play with fire and burn things. I tell them to get close with the flame and move it around in circles so it can melt evenly.
Continue until it turns golden brown all around.
Break the sugar crust with a spoon and enjoy!
Notice the color of the custard is different between steps 6 and 7? Step 6 was my first batch, Step 7 was my third batch. First batch, I use the basic recipe and just added ½ Tbsp of green tea powder. At the end, the cream mixture was too thick and it gave a puke green color to it. And the taste was incredibly bitter. So in the second batch, I decided to scale back the green tea powder big time using ½ tsp instead. The color was not as green, but the cream mixture was way too thick and gave the final custard an unusual texture. The vanilla taste came out more but way too much as I wanted the green tea to be the primary taste. So in the third batch, I scaled back the vanilla, and evenly split the ratio of regular milk with cream. Success! The milk/cream mixture was not thick at all as the regular milk loosened up the cream, which is good, but I did lose the green color some, but that’s ok. And at the end, I think the balance of texture and green tea taste was almost perfect.
If you don’t have a torch, you can use the broiler of the oven to melt the sugar on top.
To make other flavors, be careful not to use any juice of an acidic fruit like lemon or lime. The citric acid dissolves the egg and you’ll just have a messy product. Instead, use the zest of that fruit. Additionally, since vanilla extract is essential a liquor, you can switch that out using other flavor liquors such as almond liquor, sour apple pucker, midori, kahula. Possibilities are endless…