I dove in.
With some cash I received from Christmas, I finally set myself up with everything I needed to make crème brûlée at home. I ordered a torch from Amazon, along with a little book on the subject, then visited one of my favorite local kitchen stores for a few of those symbolic white porcelain dishes. I was set!
All I really knew I wanted from my first stab at this sweet dish was that it be loaded with vanilla beans. They are so pretty floating in the luxurious custard, and I love that raw, yet oh-so-soft, vanilla flavor. And then when I was out for lunch with the gang from work, we shared an almond flavored crème brûlée. And I was torn. So torn. The classic vanilla bean crème brûlée had always been my favorite. But this almond one was really messin’ with me.
So that’s how this Almond Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée came to be. Call it indecisiveness. Call it holy matrimony. Whatever you might think, just believe me when I say it’s delicious.
(Disclaimer: I’m not claiming to be any kind of French dessert expert here. I’m simply here to tell you that this impressive ramekin of lusciousness is completely attainable at home. I’ve made crème brûlée – which translates to burnt cream – a couple times for my family and once for my girlfriends to celebrate a birthday, and I’m hooked. From the rich silky custard, to the top layer of hard caramel that cracks when your spoon hits it, this dish is truly a treat.)
- 2 c. heavy whipping cream
- 3’’ piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/3 c. sugar
- 2 tsp. pure almond extract
- 6 T. sugar, for topping
Pour the cream into a medium saucepan and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream. Then add the vanilla pod, too. Place over medium heat until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan and immediately remove from the heat. Let custard mixture cool to room temperature, then remove the vanilla pod.
Preheat oven to 275°.
In a medium bowl, briskly whisk the egg yolks until pale in color, about 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the 1/3 cup sugar until dissolved, about 2 minutes. Gently whisk in the cream, taking care to not overbeat. You don’t want to see bubbles form. Stir in the almond extract.
Place 6 crème brûlée dishes in a baking pan. Divide the custard mixture evenly between the 6 dishes, allowing at least ¼’’ of head space for the sugar topping. Pour warm water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the center of each custard still jiggles just slightly. Remove from the oven and lift the dishes from the hot water. Let cool briefly, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
When ready to serve, place the dishes on a baking sheet. Evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar over each custard. With a hand-held torch, caramelize the sugar until it is browned evenly. Serve simply, unadorned. Or with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and fresh raspberries (my preference!).
Adapted from the recipe "Classic Vanilla Bean Créme Brûlée" from the cookbook Créme Brûlée by Lou Seibert Pappas