When I was a senior in high school, my parents gift to me for my 18th birthday was a week-long trip to New York City. One of our meals in NYC was at The View revolving restaurant right before I saw my first Broadway show. It was also the first time I had Crème brûlée for dessert and it was oh. so. amazing. I’ve always wanted to give it a try at home, but never had the courage. Here goes nothing! I was quite pleased with how they turned out, although next time I will bake mine a bit longer. They seemed to be not completely set in the middle, although the flavor was great. I served them topped with fresh raspberries.
Le Cirque’s Crème Brûlée
Credit: The Essential New York Times Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser
4 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped out and reserved
Pinch of salt
8 large egg yolks
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Place eight 6-ounce ramekins in a roasting pan. Combine the cream, vanilla bean and seeds, and salt in a saucepan set over low heat and warm for 5 minutes.
2. Gently whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Gradually pour in the hot cream and stir gently to combine. Strain the custard into a pitcher; discard the vanilla bean and use a spoon to skim off any bubbles on the surface of the custard.
3. Pour the custard into the ramekins, filling them almost to the rim. Place the roasting pan in the oven and carefully pour warm water into the pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake until set, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. (I found that mine took about 1 1/2 hours.) Remove the ramekins from the water bath and allow to cool.
4. Cover the ramekins individually and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days.
5. When ready to serve, heat the broiler.* Uncover the ramekins and place them on a baking sheet. Top each with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and using a metal spatula or your finger, spread the sugar evenly over the custards. Broil the custards about 4 inches from the heating element until the sugar browns and caramelizes , 30 seconds to 1 minute.
*Use a blowtorch, if you have one, to caramelize the sugar in step 5. (I tried both methods, and I preferred the results with the broiler.)