One of my husband's favorite websites is all about taking that approach to everyday problems. One day he got terribly excited because someone had posted how they brought a Mac iBook back from the dead. We happened to have just one of those machines lurking in the crypt of deceased computers. It was particularly exciting because that was the only machine in the house which ran the old operating system - if he could resurrect it, our little kids could play the old favorite computer games like Freddie Fish and Putt Putt!
My husband went to the hardware store for supplies and came back with, among other things, a blowtorch. He was thinking "computer repair." I looked at that baby and thought, "Creme brulee!"
My own personal MacGyver went to work with aluminum foil, blowtorch, and a clamp and brought the iBook back to life. Doesn't that deserve a reward? Something special that says, "You're awesome!" Something like creme brulee? I think so.
Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
- adapted from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
6 large egg yolks, chilled
1- Preheat the oven to 300 deg. F with a rack in the center of the oven. Place six 6-ounce ramekins in a larger baking pan, making sure the larger pan is at least 1/2-inch deeper than the ramekins. I used a roasting pan.
2- Bring the cream, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the vanilla bean and scraped seeds to a simmer in a large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat, cover the pan with plastic wrap, and set aside to steep for 15 minutes.
3- While the cream is steeping, gently whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl.
4- After steeping, the cream mixture should be at 165 deg. F. Gently whisk it into the egg yolks. When the cream is incorporated into the egg yolks, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl. This is the custard base.
5- Fill each ramekin to the rim with custard. Fill the larger baking pan with hot water until the water rises two thirds of the way up the ramekins. I used shallow ramekins; to prevent the hot water from splashing into the custard, I poured the hot water out of a tea kettle slowly into a funnel I placed in the pan. Cover the baking pan loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The custards are done when they are set but have a uniform jiggle. They should not be brown or have risen.
6- Chill the custard for at lest 2 hours before caramelizing and serving. Creme brulee will keep tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
7- To serve, coat the top of the custards with some of the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a thin, even layer. Wipe off any sugar the sticks to the rim of the ramekin. Melt the sugar by moving the flame of your torch back and forth across the top of the custard from a height of not less than 8 inches. As soon as it melts and starts to color, dust lightly with a second coating of sugar and continue to melt and caramelize the sugar. Keep moving the torch for even coloring. The sugar will begin to melt, bubble, and then turn into golden caramel. Remove the torch when the sugar is a dark golden color (before it burns). Allow the caramel to cool and harden for 2 minutes before serving.