Happy Creme Brulee Day

Happy Creme Brulee Day. Burnt Creme, Creme Brulee, Trinity Creme, Cambridge burnt cream, or  even Creme Anglaise. Whatever you want to call it, people have been delighted by it for over 300 years.  The earliest published recipe of the dessert is in a french cook book called Massialot’s Cuisinier royal et bourgeois, which was published in 1691. Cambridge Trinity College however records having served it as early as 1630. It can’t be readily proved who first created the dish. However these are the earliest mentions of the recipe. The recipe is probably older than either of these sources. But it doesn’t really matter who created it, perhaps they both independently did.  Custards were being consumed since the Romans, so there was plenty of opportunity for different people to change the recipe.

However this is an extemly simple dish to prepare. Below is the modern version of the recipe.  If you wanted to try it the way they would have served it 300 years ago, omit the vanilla, and add some cinnamon.

4 cups heavy cream

1 vanilla bean

1/2 cup sugar

6 egg yolks

6 Tbs Brown sugar


1. Put the creme in a saucepan. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and put in the sauce pan.  Using medium heat bring the creme to a boil.  Turn off the heat and remove the bean.  Scrape the inside of the bean into the creme. And discard the rest of the vanilla bean. 

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Let the creme cool for 20 minutes.  While cooling, in a mixer combine the egg yolks and sugar.  Make sure the sugar is blended evenly.  It will change consistancy and color when mixed enough. 

3. While the mixer is going, slowly pour the creme mixture into the egg mixture. If you pour the liquid in too quickly it will cook the egg in small chunks, and ruin the dish.

4. Pour the mixture into 6 ramekins.  Then place these in a large casserole dish.  Pour hot water into the casserol dish until it comes up half way to the ramekins. If you wish to bring these in for a bake sale, or send to your child’s class. You can use cupcake liners. Simply place the liners into a cupcake pan. And fill them the same way. Then place the pan in the water filled casserole dish. Because the cupcake liners are fluted, these are a little more difficult to eat. Also you should leave in the cupcake pan, until they are served. The cupcake liner doesn’t provide enough strength the stay upright for very long.

5. Place dish into the oven for 50 minutes.  Then check by inserting a toothpick , and removing.  If the toothpick comes out clean, it’s done, otherwise cook for another 10 minutes.

6. Refrigerate the ramekins for at least 2 hours.  When ready to serve remove from refrigerator 30 minues before serving, place 1 TBS brown sugar on each one. Then we need to carmelize the dessert.  A salamander was used in the past to carmelize the sugar. This was a branding iron, with a 2 foot handle.  It was heated to a very high temperature, which is why it needed the long handles.  Then it would pressed on the top of the creme brulee. However you can use either the broiler in your oven, or a propane torch.

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