Saturday, February 6, 2010
Thinking of Dessert
Being a food blogger is terrific because it provides me with an excellent excuse to make tons of fabulous desserts. Any whim for cake, brownies, cookies, cupcakes can be indulged, because "I need something to post."
The drawback to this great system of rationale is that when I'm craving something I've already posted, I have no reason to make it again. It feels like a waste to make something that I can't blog.
So what was I to do when I started craving creme brulée? You know how it goes, you have a passing thought. "Hmm, Creme Brulée. I really like Creme Brulée." Then you move on. Then the thought comes back and gently nudges you. "Creme Brulée. Remember? Silky, creamy, sweet with the crunchy crust? Mmmm." But then rational part of the brain comes back and says, "You don't need it. It's not exactly diet food, plus, you've already made it before and (oh, no, trump card!) you've already blogged it, so there's no excuse to make it."
Defeated by my rational self the Thought limped into a corner. Defeated? Not at all. It just changed tactics and started a whisper campaign.
I look in the refrigerator to see what needs to go on my shopping list. "Oh, wow, I've got a lot of eggs." "Creme Brulée," whispers the Thought. "Hmm, I'd better use that heavy cream before it goes bad." Creme Brulée," murmurs the Thought. "Maybe I should make dessert tonight." "Creme Brulée," hints the Thought.
I slam the refrigerator door shut and shout, "Fine, I'll make Creme Brulée!" Startled, my husband looks up and says, "Uh, OK. I like Creme Brulée."
So I made the Creme Brulée, using a different recipe, although I knew I still wouldn't be able to blog it because it would look identical. Oh well, I'd be able to eat it and that's what counts.
But then, while the Creme Brulée was chilling, I leafed through a different cookbook and found, hold the horses, a double decker Creme Brulée! A regular layer and then a chocolate mousse layer. Holy moly - this was it! The pinnacle of creme brulée goodness. And bloggable, too.
It was amazing, of course. My family gobbled up their servings, licking the dishes for every last trace of creamy, dreamy custard. And you wouldn't believe how smug the Thought was. It was very annoying. So hopefully, by posting this, I've exorcised the Thought. But if it shows up in your head, don't blame me. Just make the creme brulée. Trust me, it's easier than listening to that nagging.
Twice As Nice Creme Brulée
- adapted from Baking and The Essence of Chocolate
Layer 1 (I liked that this recipe did away with the pesky water bath which gave me so much trouble last time)
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1- Preheat the oven to 200 deg. F. with a rack in the center. Put six 4-inch gratin dishes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
2- In a small saucepan, bring the cream and milk just to a boil.
3- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla together until well blended but not airy. Still whisking, slowly pour about a quarter of the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture to temper it. Whisking the whole time, slowly pour in the rest of the hot cream and milk.
4- Give the bowl a good rap against the counter to pop any bubbles,, then strain the custard into the baking dishes. Bake the custards for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the centers are set (when you tap the sides of the dishes, the custards should be firm, not jiggly). Remove the dishes to a cooling rack and let them cool to room temperature.
5- Cover each custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably longer.
2-1/2 oz. 70% bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup dried, ground turbinado or demerra sugar (see Note)
1- In a bowl set over gently simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from the heat and let sit in a warm spot until barely warm.
2- In a medium bowl, using a whisk, whisk the egg yolks with 1 tablespoon of sugar until a ribbon forms when the whisk is lifted. Fold in the tepid chocolate.
3- In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp sugar and continue beating until barely stiff peaks form. Gently fold half of the whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining whites.
4- Spoon the chocolate mouse over the chilled custards, smoothing the tops with a small offset spatula. Wipe the rims of the dishes with a damp towel to remove any chocolate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or, preferably, overnight.
5- Thirty minute before serving, remove the creme brulée from the refrigerator.
6- Just before serving, sprinkle the sugar in an even layer over the top of the mousse. Using a torch, work from one end of the dish to the other, adjusting the flame level as needed to caramelize the sugar. Serve immediately.
Note - The recipe calls for light brown sugar, baked in a 325 deg. F oven till dry, then ground until fine. I had a packet of Demerra sugar on my shelf (purchased a couple of years ago for a recipe I never made), which was quite hard. I ground it up in my mortar and pestle for the topping and it worked quite well.