Sunday, January 20, 2013

Latte Creme Brulee

There's something about creme brulee that is just fancy.  It's a nice simple dessert that looks really impressive when you serve it to your guests.  It's also really easy to make it your own (American Idol anyone?).  You can put in almost anything you like ... Grand Marnier, Bailey's Irish Cream, poached pears, berries, peppermint, or in this case ... coffee!  I got the idea from, well, the fact that I LOVE coffee.  This isn't just a passing love affair either, we've had a serious relationship for a long time and I think we're ready to take the next step.  I frequent the local Starbucks quite often to see what they're making and the creme brulee latte caught my eye ... yum!  So I figured if they can make a creme brulee latte, I can make a latte creme brulee.  

The great thing about creme brulee is that you can really customize it to the way you like it without a lot of know-how.  The most important thing in this recipe is the ratio of egg yolks to cream.  I have used a ratio of 1:100ml so there is 100 ml of cream for every egg yolk I put in.  If you like your creme brulee on the less firm side you can go with 1:125 ml (in this recipe use 4 yolks instead of five).  Or if  you like yours more firm, you can go anywhere between 1:100 and 1:80 ... maybe even further if you'd like.  There are a range of recipes out there but the one thing that is going to make the most difference to your dessert is this ratio.  Consider yours wisely :-) ... or just make mine and then decide afterward whether your next batch will have more or less yolks.

Special Equipment

  • Ramekins (you'll need 6, 3" ramekins for this recipe ... these are the little white ceramic bowls, you can see mine in the picture below)
  • Torch.  I have a small kitchen torch which works just fine for me.

Recipe  (makes 6 servings in 3" ramekins)

2 cups heavy cream

2 tsp pure vanilla extract (or a vanilla bean if you have it)

1 pk Starbucks instant coffee ( I used extra bold Italian roast)

5 large egg yolks

5 Tbsp of sugar

6 tsp of sugar to brulee the tops


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F

In a heavy saucepan, add the cream, vanilla and coffee mixture (you can add any instant coffee that you like and you can put in as much or little as you like).  Heat for 15 minutes over medium-low heat and stir to make sure that it doesn't burn.  Don't boil the mixture or you will end up with that milk skin on the top (ewww).  Turn the heat off and let it steep for a few minutes.

In a separate mixing bowl add your egg yolks.  Beat the yolks until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).  Gradually beat in the 5 Tbsp of sugar.

Gradually add about a 1/3 of the milk mixture to the eggs.  This step is done so that you can slowly bring the temperature of the yolks up without ending up with scrambled eggs!  Give the mixture a stir and then pour it back into the saucepan where the rest of your warm milk is.  Give it a good stir until it's completely blended.

Boil some water in a kettle.  While that's boiling take out a 9x13" glass pan and your 6 ramekins.  Fill each ramekin leaving only a little space at the top (they don't rise so you don't need to give them too much room).  Place the ramekins in the glass pan.  When your water is hot pour the water into the pan so that it comes up about 2/3 of the way up the ramekins.  You can see the water in my picture below.

Place it in the oven for 35-40 minutes until it has set.  It will still jiggle slightly but it won't seem like liquid.  Take it out of the oven and let it cool for an hour or two.  Then place in the refrigerator overnight.

About 10 minutes before you're ready to serve your masterpiece, take it out of the fridge and add about 1 tsp of sugar (either white or light brown sugar) to the top and spread it around.   You will probably need a little less than the full 1 tsp.  Then torch your sugar (slowly so it doesn't burn too much).  With my small torch I find it works best if I keep it moving very quickly over the creme brulee so that the flame isn't in one spot too long.

Serve once the top has cooled.

The milk mixture with the added coffee swirling around

Our yolks and sugar are nice and light now, time to add the milk mixture

Waiting to go in the oven

My creme brulee always comes out of the oven looking like it has craters.  It comes from the  froth in the cream.  Luckily we are going to cover it with the torched sugar.

See?  No craters ... just delicious creamy goodness

Enjoy!!  Let me know how yours went.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Soft Vanilla Pecan Fudge

Fudge is one of those things that I don't seem to think about until I'm at a carnival and then I can't stop thinking about it.  Chocolate, vanilla, mint, rocky road, maple pecan, peanut butter .... *drool*.  I decided that I must make this magical food.  The first problem that I encountered is that none of the recipes online were for anything but chocolate or peanut butter fudge.  As much fun as chocolate fudge is, my heart was set on vanilla.  If you google 'vanilla fudge' all you will get is a lot of information about some rock band from the 60's ... weird (you just googled it, didn't you).

Now I must admit that I tried making vanilla fudge about two weeks ago and it was a total disaster (yeah, I still ate it) but it was a disaster and now I know why.  I will share my newly found wisdom with you ...


2 cups packed light brown sugar

1 cup sugar

1 cup whole milk

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces (about 60 g)

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 vanilla extract

1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

This recipe doubles well.

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.  Combine both sugars, milk, butter, and salt in a large heavy saucepan.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring until the butter has melted and the sugars are dissolved.  Using a pastry brush dipped in cold water, brush the sides of the saucepan making sure that no sugar is left on the sides. Why you ask?  If the crystalized sugar gets back in with the melted sugar, it will crystalize the whole thing, this is NOT what you want.  Clip on a candy thermometer.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to boil until the mixture reaches the softball sage, that is, when your candy thermometer reads 238 degrees F.  This will take about 30 minutes, so get comfortable.  You can go grab a bowl but, that's about it.  I grabbed the bowl that goes with my Kitchenaid mixer because we're going to be beating the mixture eventully. DO NOT STIR!!  Only if you see that your mixture is scorching, but if you have it on medium-low heat it should be just fine.

As soon as the mixture reaches 238 degrees, take it off the heat and leave your candy thermometer in the saucepan.  DON'T STIR ... I know you want to, but resist the urge.  Wait until your candy thermometer reaches 110 degrees.  If you stir your mixture before it has cooled you will end up with a very grainy caramel that will not set to the right texture.

When your mixture has reached 110 degrees (or there abouts), transfer to your waiting bowl and add the vanilla and the nuts.  Beat the mixure with an electric mixer.  You will not think it's ready to be mixed yet because it will still look like a runny caramel sauce like my picture below, but trust me, it's ready.  Beat for about 5 minutes until it's smooth and creamy.  (This is the step I missed the last time I made fudge ... so don't miss this).  If you don't beat the mixture you will basically have a chewy caramel thing.  It's the air that make it fudge.

Working quickly, transfer the fudge into your loaf pan and refrigerate until firm, about one hour.  Or you can leave it on your counter for a few hours until it comes down to room temperature.

It's almost done boiling - avoid the urge to stir
This is what mine looked like when I transferred it, it didn't look much
different when it got down to 110 degrees
Its nice and creamy ... time to transfer it to our loaf pan

Mmmmm ... Fudge
And there you have it folks.  Deliciously soft and scrumptious vanilla pecan fudge.  Enjoy!  Let me know how it went. 
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