Crème Brûlée with Blood Orange. Yes this happened. Right here in the humble The Gourmet Gourmand kitchen. I brûlée-d the heck out of that crème. And blood oranges abounded. Dave danced and sang as we cracked through that perfect crunchy sugar coating and dipped our spoons into the silkiest of vanilla crème.
All was right with the world.
(But after reading that, one might conclude that something might actually be wrong with me..).It’s kind of weird to think that making this classic dessert has only just happened in my life. Even before I was obsessed with cooking I was obsessed with crème brûlée. I was that pretentious little 10 year old who, when asked about my favorite food by an adult, said “crème brûlée.” (Or steak. But never pizza. I was not a fan.)
Anyway, basically the weak link in my creme brulee creation process was acquiring and using a butane torch. I am more than just a little scared of fire. I have nearly lit my hair on fire once in the process of flambé-ing and haven’t really trusted myself with fuel and flame in the kitchen since that time.
But finally I decided to put my fears behind me. It was time.Crème brûlée is actually not that hard of a dessert to make well. The process is similar to any other type of custard. Have you ever made pot de crème? Or just simple pudding (not the instant kind.. yucky)? You’re basically 95% of the way there.
This custard recipe is a simple vanilla custard scented with amazing vanilla beans that were generously donated to me from Olivenation (no paid advertising here- I legitimately liked their product and would recommend checking them out if only for the reason that they sell high quality vanilla beans in increments from 1 bean to basically as many as you want, which is convenient for those of us who are on a budget and can’t justify getting lots of beans just ’cause).
I also took the custard a step further (and knowing I wanted to garnish these with blood orange) added a tablespoon of Grand Marnier. The Grand Marnier is definitely optional (i.e. if you don’t have it on hand, don’t make a special trip unless you’re really feeling motivated). To make the custard it’s basically just a simple process of heating milk, flavoring the milk with vanilla and/or liqueur, and slowly pouring it into a combo of egg yolks and sugar. The warm milk will temper the eggs without scrambling them (although I do recommend straining your custard mixture for any lumps, just in case- even with my best efforts, I always seem to miss a few egg white pieces and those do end up scrambling a little bit). Pop the custards into a 9×13 and make this into an impromptu water bath. And then bake until the custards are set. Chill (or at least let them come to room temperature), and top with the oranges and about a tablespoon of sugar. Next- the scary part- get your butane torch ready and go to town. I recommend using granulated sugar or superfine sugar for the topping- anything coarser is more likely to burn. You’ll need to fuss a little bit and turn your custard dishes so that all the sugar gets exposed to flame. But, honestly, I was surprised at how easy the process was. And safe! If you need butane torch recommendations, this is the one that I ordered from amazon and I found it to be very straight-forward and easy. Note- you will need to purchase the butane fuel separately.So I hope anyone who has been too intimidated to try this before is inspired by this post. And I think we can all rest easy upon hearing the news: there was not even a close call in my kitchen of anything inappropriate being set on fire.
Happy Hump Day all!
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 egg yolks
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar for the brulee topping
- 8-10 blood orange slices (from about 2 small blood oranges)
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- In a medium mixing bowl combine egg yolks and sugar. Beat together on low until just combined (do not incorporate air). Set aside.
- In a small saucepan pour in heavy cream. Using a sharp knife, slice open the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the cream. Add the whole vanilla bean as well.
- Turn heat to medium and heat until mixture is scalded (there will be bubbles on the top and the edges, but mixture should not boil). Stir in the grand marnier.
- Next, temper the eggs by pouring a small amount of the milk mixture into the yolk-sugar mixture. Mix thoroughly until combined. Gradually pour the rest of the milk mixture into the eggs until fully mixed.
- Pour custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a large measuring cup (needs to hold at least 2 cups).
- Arrange 4 ramekins in a 9x13 pan. Pour the custard evenly between the ramekins.
- Place the custard in the oven and pour boiling water into the 9x13 pan (use caution so no water gets in with the custard) so that the water reaches about ½ way up the ramekins.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until custard is set when slightly jiggled.
- Remove from 9x13 pan and chill custards for about 2 hours and up to overnight.
- Prepare blood orange slices- lightly dab with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Arrange on top of the chilled custards, about 2-3 orange slices/ ramekin.
- Next, top each ramekin with about 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Smooth out with your finger so that sugar is even.
- Using a chef's torch, melt the sugar until the oranges and custard are caramelized. (If you don't have a torch, you may do this in your broiler- watch very carefully!!)
- Allow to topping to cool and harden before serving.