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Chapter One - Introduction to Crème Brûlée

Dear Readers,

Yesterday I read the first chapter of Dominique and Cindy Duby’s book, Crème brûlée – More than 50 Decadent Recipes. Today I am going write a quick abstract over the introduction to the art of making Crème brûlée. I also wanted to add one important note that Dominique and Cindy Duby’s recipes are all copy write material. Out of respect for their hard work I will not publish any of their actual recipes in this blog. The only recipe that I will publish will be a generic Crème brûlée recipe. For each of their recipes that I do make I will publish a photo of my image, and link you to either their company or another place where you can buy a copy of their book.  So let’s get on with my abstract.

Crème brûlée is a baked custard much like cheesecake is a baked custard. It consists of basically milk and eggs. Depending on how much egg or thickener used, the custard may vary in consistency. As I thought about how and why eggs are thickeners I decided to do a brief review of the egg. The egg is a protein thickener. It traps carbon dioxide when heated, which is what thickens the substance. I think that it is important to understand the chemistry behind these recipes.

The Crème brûlée is a sweet custard with the basic ingredients of milk/cream, egg, and sugar. What makes this dessert appear traditionally French (at least to me) is the simplicity of the dish. The ingredients are things that come from any kitchen. But then again, who knows where the dish originally came from.

One important point that Dominique and Cindy Duby touched on in their book, is that most recipes call for cow’s milk with a 35 percent butter fat content. “If a recipe calls for whipping cream as well as other high fat ingredients, like chocolate, you can substitute light cream (18% butter fat), which will lower the fat content to the recipe without affecting its taste.”(pg. 6) That is good to know because I do have to watch my calorie content. One calorie of fat has a lot more calories than one gram protein or carbohydrates.

Next, they discuss different types of sugars: sucrose, fructose, glucose. They discuss maple sugar, brown sugars, demerara, turbinato, and muscovado. I had no idea that there were that many sugars. Granulated sugar works best for this dish. So - sprinkle granulated sugar on your cooled custard, then torch the puppie.
Torching is the magical thing that makes the Crème brûlée true Burnt Cream. This can be done with a torch and a broiler. The sugar will caramelize and harden. The surface will change color and stiffen. The caramelized portion will have a slight bitter-sweet taste.

I need one of these urgently!!!
Speaking for myself, the fun part of eating Crème brûlée is breaking through the caramelized top with your spoon. Since I do not have a torch I will have to use our broiler. They wrote that caramelization will take anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes in the oven. Since poor me... does not have a proper torch, and I am even working in a tiny kitchen, the broiler will have to do. (insert sad face)
Tonight I will make my first Crème brûlée. The recipe will be a basic standard recipe. Once I got me feet wet, then I will delve into their wonderful book and make some of their recipes.
Stay Tuned!

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