My absolute favorite dessert of all time, a deliciously decadent creme brûlée. Despite what you might think, i'm not really a dessert person. I make them, I taste them, but I don't really eat a whole lot of them. I will take a cheese board over a dessert any day of the week, unless there is one of these on offer. These are not a bit difficult to make if you don't rush it.
The perfect creme should have a bit of wobble to it, the only danger is that you will cook your eggs a bit too quickly or too hot and they will scramble. If this happens, just throw it away and chalk it down to experience - there is no redeeming features to sweet scrambled eggs. But if you take it slowly and watch care fully it won't happen, it takes care of itself in the oven and the end result is sublime.
These quantities are for six portions in a regular sized ramekin - I make four slightly larger ones in large shallow dishes so I can have even more crunchy sugar topping. Only caramelize when you are ready to serve them as the sugar will soften again if left standing around for any length of time. Here I have it with a few summer berries and a raspberry sauce, any seasonal fruit can be served along side but in general it is a stand alone dessert that needs nothing else.
If you don’t own a mini blowtorch, caramelise them under the grill, it will come out pretty even as long as you watch they don't burn.
500ml/18fl oz double cream
1 vanilla pod
100g/4oz caster sugar (plus extra for the topping)
6 free-range egg yolks
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F. Pour your cream into a saucepan and split the vanilla pod lengthways scraping the seeds into the cream. Chop the empty pod into small pieces, and add those to the cream also. Bring the cream just up to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, very gently for five minutes.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, beat the sugar and egg yolks together in a large heatproof bowl until pale and fluffy. Bring the cream back to boiling point. Pour it over the egg mixture, whisking continuously until thickened - this indicates that the eggs have begun to cook slightly.
Strain the mixture through a sieve into a large jug, and then use this to fill six (or a greedy four) ramekins to about two-thirds full. Place the ramekins into a large roasting tray and pour in enough hot water to come halfway up their sides, a bain-marie in other words.
Place the bain-marie onto the centre shelf of the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the custards are just set but still a bit wobbly in the centre. You are looking for a jelly type of wobble here
Remove the ramekins from the water and set aside to cool to room temperature. Chill until needed.
When ready to serve, sprinkle one level teaspoon of caster sugar evenly over the surface of each crème brûlée, then caramelise with a chefs' blow-torch. Set aside to cool for a couple of minutes, then serve.