Posts Tagged ‘custard’

Crème Brûlée

For nearly an entire year, I have been a girl with a small butane torch and no ramekins in which to put custard.  Me even wanting to fill a ramekin with custard is weird in and of itself (you can search my blog for how I hated custard), but the desire came to a head if for no other reason than the desire to use this small torch.  I was lucky enough to find a steal on small ramekins (6 for $7!!!), and set on this task immediately thereafter.

Baking any custard based product is still a challenge for me; as seen here, here, and here.  I really want to get it down though and crème brûlée couldn’t be easier.  Using the recipe found in my CIA Mastering the Art and Craft Baking & Pastry book, I set to work gathering my ingredients and sauce pans.

I know what you’re thinking; “OMG!  How on earth do you make so many delicious things with an electric stove!?”  I don’t know friends (all 2 of you), but it CAN be done.  Trust.

Anyway, I followed the directions from the recipe – if you missed the link above, here it is again.  If you did not plan ahead and have 30 vanilla beans, or two from the McCormick spice jar from big box grocery, vanilla extract will suffice, just not look as pretty.  The CIA suggests

Vanilla extract can be substituted for the vanilla bean.  Blend 1 T into the custard just before portioning it into ramekins.  Vanilla beans that are used to infuse flavor into preparations such as custards can be rinsed under cold water, dried, and stored for a later use, such as making Vanilla Sugar.

Had I actually read the last sentence I could be indulging in vanilla sugar.   Uhg.

If you are not constantly stirring them mixture after you have tempered and added the sugared egg yolks, you run the high risk making scrambled eggs, so stir constantly!  If you don’t and kind of zone out of the task, get your strainer ready because you will need to pour all of your custard through it to remove the curdled eggs.  Actually, whether you zone out or not, it is best to strain it.  You know, precautionary, even if you’re as awesome as me.

Then just bake your ramekins off in a water bath so they do not get rubbery!

When you pull these guys out, or as many as you can bake (for any that you can’t/don’t want to bake off,  just put it in a sizable plastic container and use within a week or so), let them cool down and then refrigerate until they are fully chilled. But when they ARE…

Using 1 part granulated sugar to 1 part brown sugar and mixing them together completely, you have created brûlée sugar.  Take your brûlée sugar and layer it thinly on top of your custard…

Then you take that sugar and TORCH IT!  But not so much so that it is just burnt…but caramelized.

Some people pick their scabs, other break windows to relieve stress, feel good or waste time.  But if you are looking for a wonderful relief that is neither disgusting but is law-abiding, cracking through the glassy topping of this wonderful crème brûlée fits the bill.


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Have you seen all of the adorable baby pumpkins at the store?  Maybe you noticed the stickers on them saying something about pie.  Perhaps when you went apple picking all of the baby pumpkins had a sign nearby also proclaiming “PIES!”  Believe it or not, making a pumpkin pie does not have to include aluminum can, much less a can opener.  That’s right, you can create your OWN pie filling.

Start of by buying one of these small pumpkins (~8″ in diameter…or has a pie sticker/sign on it).  Nature did her job and made them much sweeter than the giant Jack-O-Lanterns that you typically want to buy to carve some garrish design in to.  Don’t be tempted though – get the little guy.  Using a sharp knife, perhaps a bread knife, cut it in half, cut the stem off and remove (but save!) the seeds.  Clean out the other goop and pop your baby pumpkin in the oven at 350F for about 40 minutes or so.  Treat it like any other squash.  When it is done baking, let it cool.

While you’re waiting for it to cool, make your pie crust.  Seriously!  Don’t waste money and get one of those pre-baked cardboard tasting crusts.  That’s disgusting and quite frankly,  you’re better than that.  You know that, right?  In fact follow the crust recipe here, but cut it in half.  It’s super easy and quick.

Now that you took the time to make the crust, your pumpkin cooled!  Peel the skin off and cut the pumpkin into small enough pieces to toss in your food processor.


Don’t use the pulse button.  Just. Turn. It. On.  Keep it running until the pumpkin is so smooth that you could drink it.

Now that your pumpkin puree is made, and your pie crust is par baked, you are ready to get going on the Sweet Melissa’s Ginger Custard Pumpkin Pie!  This recipe mostly appealed to me because I had all of the ingredients on hand, and it was pretty different: 1) It has no corn syrup in it, 2) It encourages you to use fresh pumpkin puree (yeh!), 3) it has ginger in i, giving the pie some spice 4) It does not have nutmeg.  Crazy stuff, right?  All of this appealed o me for the above reasons, but it also didn’t matter because I don’t care for pumpkin pie.

Her recipe is very straight forward.  The only thing that I changed was the amount of ginger.  As  I pulled the fresh ginger out of the refrigerator (is that even where you are supposed to store it!?) and eyeballed a 6 x 1 inch piece, I was taken aback and scaled the amount down to a 4 x 1 inch piece.   Aside from this, I followed the recipe to a T.  For that reason and the fact that it is so straight forward, (and taking pictures of scalding cream never look good, much less appetizing) I think you should just run with it.

But, here is a picture before I baked the pie…


Look.  At. That!  So silky smooth.  So custardy, so sexy!

I have this problem with custard and more liquid based pies (or other goods) where I am really hesitant to pull the item out of the oven in fear that it did not bake through all of the way.  I understand the jiggle test, but how much jiggle is enough?  Or too much?  Should it jiggle at all?  It’s a very confusing aspect of baking things like this for me.  I couldn’t be more embarrassed than pulling it out too early and someone cuts in to it and it’s liquidy in the middle.  The horror, the HORROR!

In an effort to bypass any liquid incidences, I left it n the oven 10 minutes or so longer than what Melissa recommends, which may or may not have been good, since after cooling, the pie was pulling away from the crust.


No matter.  Because we are not permitted to keep a lot of treats and baked goods in the house (watching our figures and all…) I sent it to work with David where it was gobbled up.  It got high praise because it was made with fresh pumpkin puree and was different and spicy!  Change up your all recipes, toss out the HFCS and pre-baked pie crusts and give this a try this Autumn.

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I haven’t eaten much quiche…ever.  I am not one for custards, creams, creme(s), pudding, mousse, cheesecake, or anything with a similar texture.  OK I’ll eat a small bit of cheesecake when warranted, but the rest I try to stay away from.

However, when I read Philip Dorwart’s article on quiche, I became intrigued.  A crowd pleaser?  Made ahead of time?  No stress the morning of (much less a dirty kitchen)?  Deep dish quiche?  Whoa! I’m in!

I had grand aspirations to follow his lead and make it ahead of time in order to eat Sunday morning, sitting on the deck reading the newspaper.  I got to work right Friday night and bought a bunch of filler at the grocery store (smoked salmon, asparagus, spinach, herbs, feta[???]) as well as the custards components listed in Dorwart’s article.

While I envisioned this to be stress free, it became nothing other than stressful when trying to create crust that I could work with, wouldn’t crack, would become malleable yet not melt on the counter.  Attempting to make a flaking, workable crust took no less than four times and thus necessitated that I created the quiche on Saturday rather than Friday.  I was stressed, hurt and felt like a failure as I went to bed that night but woke up with new hope and satisfaction when I found my crust recipe from school in the basement (found here), and created the perfect crust.


From there quiche baking became easier, though with a hint of excusable-not-my-fault-failure.

contentsI had the contents prepared the night before (sweat out the veggies, didn’t eat all of the smoked salmon…) and were ready for the batter, which I poured in on top.

batterWhat I did not anticipate is that my cheap-o Ikea spring form pans would leak all over the counter, on the floor and in the oven.  Though this was a deep dish quiche, I lost a considerable amount of batter (it was shortly after this incident that I added some spring form pans to our wedding registry. ;)  ).

Despite the dramatic loss, it only took a dull knife to cut the crust down to the height of the actual quiche and still look like it could be deep dish.

finished*The feta was over doing it.  I should have left it off.

**I also should not have added the sea salt as the recipe indicated since the smoked salmon had more than enough seasoning.

But it was delicious, even for a girl who doesn’t care for the custardy things in life.

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