Crème Brulée

Creme BruleeCourtesy of Brandy Stumpe, Pastry Chef at The Seven Feathers’ Camas Room

The literal translation of this rich dessert is “burnt cream”. Just before serving, chilled custard is sprinkled with sugar which is quickly caramelized under a broiler to form a brittle topping, creating a delicious contrast in flavor and texture to the smooth, creamy custard beneath.

Preparation time is 20 minutes + overnight refrigeration. Total cooking time 55 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Have ready six custard cups.

Whisk the egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar in a large heatproof bowl. Set aside. Bring the cream and a few drops of vanilla to a boil in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour the cream onto the egg mixture, whisking vigorously so the eggs do not scramble. Strain the custard into a large pitcher, then pour into the individual cups.

Place the custard cups into a baking dish. Pour enough hot water into the baking dish to reach 1/2 inch below the rims of the custard cups. Bake the custard for 40-45 minutes, or until just firm to the touch. Remove from the oven, allow to cool then cover and refrigerate overnight.

To make the caramel, evenly sprinkle some of the remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar over the top of each custard using a teaspoon. Without breaking the skin of the custard, spread the sugar out very gently, using a finger or the spoon, then repeat to form a second layer of sugar. Remove any sugar from the inside edges of the dishes as it will burn. Place the dishes on a baking sheet and place under a very hot broiler, for 2-3 minutes, or until the sugar has melted and is just beginning to give off a haze. Allow the glaze to harden before serving. You may also use a blow-torch to caramelize the sugar.

Chef’s tips: This wonderful desert is enhanced by fruit, which complement the sweetness of the custard with a fresh tangy flavor. Before pouring the custard into the cups, arrange a few berries (strawberries or raspberries are ideal) in the bottom of the cup, or prunes pre-soaked in Armagnac or brandy.