Monday, November 2, 2009

GF Dessert Spotlight: Crème Brûlée

Make an elegant (and delicious!) statement with crème brûlée. This sophisticated French dessert is naturally gluten-free, and best of all, simple even for even a novice pâtissier.

Some tips when making crème brûlée:

Heat eggs and milk or cream just to the point where they set and become perfectly smooth and creamy. If the custard exceeds a certain temperature the egg proteins will shrivel into tiny lumps, giving the custard a hard, dry, grainy consistency.

• A water bath, also known as a bain-marie, is the cook’s principal means of managing heat during the cooking of custards. Baking a dish of custard in a larger pan of water partially insulates the custard from the oven’s heat and thereby protects it from overcooking. To bake custards in a water bath, choose a pan large enough to accommodate the cups comfortably. They should not touch one another or the pan sides. Set a cake rack in the pan or cover the pan bottom with a dish towel or several layers of paper towels; the rack or towel(s) will prevent the custards from coming into direct contact with the hot pan bottom. Arrange the custards in the prepared pan, place the pan on a rack in a preheated 325˚F oven, and immediately pour enough scalding-hot tap water into the pain to come one-half to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the custard dishes. By pouring the water into the pan after setting the pan in the oven, you are able to keep the pan steady and prevent splashing water into the custards.

• In testing for doneness, gently shake a cup, and remove the custard from the oven as soon as the center appears quivery, like firm gelatin. Or insert a knife near the edge of the cup; if the blade comes out clean, the custard will be set all the way through when cooled—there is sufficient stored heat in the cups to finish the cooking process. Remove the custards from the pan and cool on a rack. Test them at the centers. If they are as well done as at the edges, set the cups in ice water at once to stop further cooking.

Maple Crème Brûlée

from The Joy of Cooking

A classic recipe with a twist!

2 cups heavy cream

8 large egg yolks or 4 large eggs

2/3 cup pure maple syrup

¾ teaspoon vanilla


1. Heat the 2 cups of heavy cream almost to a simmer. Simultaneously stir the eggo yolks (or large eggs) with a wooden spoon in a medium bowl until just blended.

2. Gradually stir in the cream. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla.

3. Pour into four 6-ounce or six 4-ounce custard cups or ramekins and place in a water bath

4. Set the pan in the oven and set the oven temperature at 325˚F. Bake until the custards are set but still slightly quivery in the center when the cups are gently shaken, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the custards from the water bath and let cool to room temperature.

5. Cover each one tighly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, and up to two days. Shortly before serving, gently blot any liquid that has formed on the surface. Sprinkle with sugar to form a thin layer and place under a low broiler. Watch carefully; it will caramelize quickly. Remove and serve promptly.

Pumpkin Crème Brulée

Perfect for fall

2 cups heavy cream

¼ cup sugar, plus extra to carmelize top layer

¼ cup brown sugar

8 large egg yolks

1 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin

½ teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon cinnamon


1. In a saucepan, combine cream and sugars. On stovetop, cook until dissolved, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Using mixer with whisk attachment, whisk eggs on high for 2 minutes, until lemon colored. With mixer on low, add ¼ of the cream mixture, mix properly, and then continue to slowly add the rest of the cream in small batches.

3. Add the remaining ingredients to the cream and egg mixture, and mix thoroughly with a spoon.

4. Place 8 custard cups or ramekins in a water bath (as described above). Place in a preheated oven and cook for 50-55 minutes, or until the crème brulée is set. Refrigerate overnight.

5. Remove from fridge and place ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar evenly on top of each Crème Brulée. To caramelize the sugar, either use a kitchen torch or broil in oven.

6. After caramelizing sugar, let cool for five minutes before serving.