Thursday, January 15, 2009

MacGyver Brulee

My husband is an engineer. I have heard engineers described as possibility thinkers. When presented with a challenge, instead of saying, "It can't be done," an engineer will muse, "Hmmm, I wonder how that could be made to work."

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.



27 comments:

LyB said...

Oh, Lynn, how I love MacGyver references! Don't tell me you didn't have a brulée torch! Isn't it fun to play with fire and end up with something so delicious? :)

Sean said...

Dad resurrected that? That's so awesome.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Lynn, I love that your kids leave you comments!
He was thinking "computer repair." I looked at that baby and thought, "Creme brulee! What a fabulous line!! Love the creme brulee and the photo with eggs and v beans!!

Diane said...

OMG that looks so good. I just had dinner so I'm not hungry, but it looks so good anyway. Did I mention it looks really yummy?

I had to laugh. After all the tools went away during the divorce, the 2nd tool I bought for me was a blow torch so I could do plumbing repairs and of course the first usage was ... creme brulee. I've done more of those than pipe repairs.

The first tool I got was a hand sander, and if you can come up with a cooking usage, you've got my vote for creative cook!

Eva said...

What a great story! My husband, an engineer as well is exactly the same whilst I'm only as persistent as that in the culinary department. And now I want creme brulee - hopefully I don't have to smash my laptop to get a blow torch..;-)

Lien said...

How wonderful to have such a handy man in the house!! Better still that he brings in aquipment that you can use too. You're a kitchen engineer, you look at things and don't think "that's used in building, gardening" or whatever, but "how can I use those in the kitchen?"
Great looking brulée!

Ilva said...

now you made me wish for an engineer. And Creme Brulee. and a blowtorch too

Melinda said...

Creme Brulee, a blow torch, and an engineer with a broken Mac. It sounds like one of those word games where you have to use a mish-mash of words to create a plausible story. Excellent story use.
I love Creme Brulee and men that are handy!
My own computer nerd handy man (only this morning) repaired the toaster that wouldn't stay in the down position. He used the compressed air for cleaning his keyboards to blow out toast crumbs, that were pathologically wedged, preventing the toaster lowering the bread. My hero!

I am sure resuscitating the Mac required much more genius. Way to go Mr. McCraig! You got your just desserts.

Melinda said...

P.S. I love that egg basket.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

lol glad to hear the story had a happy ending--a fixed computer and dessert! The creme brulee looks great

alexandra's kitchen said...

amazing! how clever is your husband? and you for turning a man-gadget into a cooking essential?! i love creme brulee! this looks yummy

Natashya said...

Great photos!
I love creme brulee, it is one of my absolute favourites.
Your new torch is great - the kitchen ones are usually to small and fiddley.

Aimée said...

Lovely photos, Lynn.
Danny is an engineer too. I'm lucky to be able to borrow a blowtorch from his workshop when I make CB and I totally relate to the 'hmm, I wonder if I could fix it' approach.

Marjoke said...

Lynn, aren't you also a kind of an engineer with that approach. A culinairy engineer don't you think?

Gretchen Noelle said...

What fun to use the same blowtorch to resurrect a computer & make dessert. He!

Katrina said...

The perfect blow torch usage! Kinda wish my husband as a bit of a MacGyver--nope, he's an accounting professor. If it needs fixed--call someone!

Brilynn said...

I've been toying around with making creme brulee lately and after seeing this post I think it must be done...

Peabody said...

I love that a blowtorch can bring a computer back. This Creme Brulee is definitely a good reward.

Maria said...

Nice torch! And the creme brulee looks perfect! I wish I had a spoon to dig in!

Jonathan and Gabriel Sovereign said...

MacGyver used to be one of my mom's favorite tv shows and I've really enjoyed watching the DVDs or the reruns on tv. Great to watch while working out, actually.

This sounds absolutely delicious! And Jonathan bought me vanilla beans for Christmas! So I'll have to give it a try some time in the near future. :D

CookiePie said...

Gorgeous creme brulee! I always use a giant propane torch for mine - not as much fun with the dainty little torches they sell at Williams-Sonoma. :) Good for you!!

Baking Soda said...

I think so too! (Freddie Fish and PuttPutt? Oooooh those were our first!)

Gigi said...

I love how you turned the blow torch into a multi-task kitchen gadget! A totally McGyver!

breadchick said...

Lynn, I LOVE that you and your husband can both share a gadget! That is absolutely the best creme brulee story I have ever heard.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Lynn, I never knew that a blow torch could be so powerful. :D

I have never had creme brulee, and now you've got me craving it!

Sarah said...

Haha Aunt Diane's comment made me laugh so much. I hope you do come up with a kitchen use for the power sander. Thank you for sharing these little num-nums with my husband and I. We hardly ever bake cause we always get so much yummy from you guys.

Deborah said...

I think I'd be mighty happy if my husband brought home a blow torch, because I love creme brulee!