Crème Brulee- Origin Debated but Not the Yummy Taste
Crème brulee is a classic dessert smooth, soft custard with a burn or caramelised sugar topping. There are a few who have made a claim on the recipe of crème brulee and there is a hot debate as to its origin. It is said that it was in the 1600s in Trinity College of Cambridge that the first crème brulee was prepared and an hot iron official crest of the college was used to imprint and burn the college’s official crest on the sugar. They named the dessert Trinity cream or Cambridge burnt cream. The story for this dessert goes this way that an undergraduate of the Trinity College brought the recipe from a country house in Aberdeenshire and asked the cook to make it, who refused. The story further states that when the student became a Fellow he impressed upon the cook who relented and as they say the rest is history.
Another version as to the origin of the crème brulee is that the Spanish also made a similar dessert and called it Crema Catalana or crema de Sant Josep which was a dessert made in Catalan and generally served on March 19th which is commemorated as St. Joseph’s Day. They claim to have first made it in the eighteenth century and they never used the flame to caramelize the custard instead they used an iron broiler to do so.
The French also lay a claim to this classic recipe and it was first published in French in 1691 by Monsieur Francois Massialot, but this edition of the Le Cuisinier royal et bourgeois which got reprinted many a time. His second cookbook Le Nouveau Cuisinier royal et bourgeois was published in 1712 under his name and this also had this dessert recipe. But the English edition of the cookbook saw the light of day only in the nineteenth century and this recipe was translated in English under the name of “burnt cream.”
It matters little who invented this dish first as it tastes truly divine and its popularity can be gauged by the sale of several ready mixes and kitchen torches which are used in the making of this delectable dessert. This was once only found on the menu of restaurants but in this day and age of the computer there are many versions of crème brulee which can be found on various websites of recipes.
Preparation Time: It takes ten minutes to prepare
Cooking Time: The cooking time for it is about thirty minutes
Inactive Time: The time which it has just to sit and remain inactive is two hours.
Total Time: The total time taken to make this dessert is two hours forty minutes.
Nutritional Value: This recipe serves five people and each serving has a caloric count of 562. The total fat content for this dessert serving is 50.2 grams or 77%, cholesterol is 418 milligram or 139%, total carbohydrates is 24.1 grams or 8%, proteins are 5.8 grams or 12% among other nutritional values. The daily value percentage is based on a caloric count of 2000 which is different for each individual.
- Six egg yolks
- Six tablespoons white sugar, divided into two
- Half a teaspoon vanilla extract
- Two and a half cups heavy cream
- Two tablespoons brown sugar
Preparation or Method:
- The first step is preheating oven to 150°C or 300°F.
- Whisk four tablespoons sugar, vanilla and the egg yolks in a mixing bowl of medium size until it becomes creamy and thick.
- Add the cram to a sauce pan and stir it over a medium to low heat to avoid it getting burnt, but do not let it come to the boiling point.
- At this point the heated cream should be removed from the heat source and stir in the egg yolk mixture and beat it continuously till it combines properly.
- Now take a double boiler and pour the cream and egg mixture into the top.
- Stir this mixture over simmering water till it lightly coats the spoon which will take about three minutes.
- Once again remove the mixture from the heat source and pour it into a shallow heat proof dish.
- Put this dish into the preheated oven and let it bake for thirty minutes.
- Take out the dish from the oven and let it come down to room temperature before putting it in the refrigerator for one hour or overnight.
- The next step is preheat the oven to broil.
- Mix the remaining two tablespoon sugar and brown sugar in a bowl and spread the combination evenly over the custard.
- Now you should place the dish under the broiler and watch it carefully until the sugar melts. Do not let the sugar get burnt.
- Now remove the custard and again let it cool before putting it back in the refrigerator until the custard sets.
Any Possible Variations:
Crème brulee can be made in a number of ways using different ingredients instead of vanilla and sometimes the heavy cream is substituted with whipping cream. There are varieties where sugar is lessened and vanilla is substituted with onion or garlic or pepper and blue cheese to make a savoury out of it. The other substitutes or using less of vanilla are almond liqueur along with chopped toasted almond to make Almond Crème Brulee, Chocolate, coffee, berries, raspberry, orange and many others as per your imagination and taste.
How to Garnish and Serve:
You can garnish your crème brulee with fruits such as berries or kiwis but please avoid using grapes on it. You can top this up with small pieces of chopped and lightly fried cashew nuts, almonds and raisins. Or you can garnish it with mint or jus shavings of mint chocolate.
How to Store:
One should not think of storing crème brulee for long in the refrigerator as the cream and eggs in it makes it a volatile playground for bacteria. If you think you could freeze it, then think again because once you unfreeze it you will notice that it will develop cracks and the water content in it will be lost. You can refrigerate though for two or the maximum three days in a glass or ceramic dish tightly covered with plastic wrap so that the other flavours in the refrigerator does not permeate it and spoil its subtle taste. You can though store it prior to the caramelizing it and before serving do the process of caramelizing as otherwise when you refrigerate the whole crème brulee the top crusty portion will absorb moisture and become soft. So it is best not to store it for long before serving.
In the recipe that has been given above an alternative method of preparation of the crème brulee is as follows:
- Follow the first four steps as given in the preparation or method above and after the fourth step instead of poring the whole mixture of eggs and cream into a double boiler pour it into six individual ramekins of seven to eight ounce size.
- Put these ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan and pour water in the pan till the ramekins are covered halfway up the sides.
- Place the pan along with the bathed ramekins into the preheated oven and bake for forty to forty five minutes till the custard is set and the center wiggles a little.
- The ramekins can be cooled after removing from the baking pan and put in the refrigerator for two hours or at the most two days.
- Prior to serving with the caramelized sugar on top, take it out of the fridge thirty minutes before.
- Sprinkle the sugar on top that you had kept aside on top of each ramekin.
- Using a kitchen torch brown the sugar till the top becomes crisp. Avoid burning the sugar.
- In absence of a kitchen torch you can also use a broiler to brown the sugar but be careful not to burn it.
- Serve immediately.
To help prevent the crème brulee from melting, put ice around it before using the kitchen blow torch.
To evenly spread the sugar on each of the ramekin or the whole dish, after you sprinkle it take the back of a spoon and even it out. Spray the top with a very fine spray (do not overdo it) then use the blow torch going in spirals around the ramekins to caramelize it.