Crème brûlée, two ways (vanilla and green tea)

I got a new toy for Christmas.  I've wanted a kitchen blow torch for years but always talked myself out of it.  I couldn't quite justify another gadget that I'd rarely use.  But I couldn't resist putting it on my Christmas list this year, and Santa delivered!  So, of course, I had to make crème brûlée!
Vanilla Crème Brûlée
I made two kinds - the first being a classic vanilla crème brûlée.  I'm always happy to make and taste anything showcasing eggs.  If I had to pick a favorite ingredient to cook with, eggs would be it.  I love egg custards, and crème brûlée is like its glitzy, glamorous, rich cousin.
Thanks to my new kitchen blow torch, I can get that signature thin layer of hard, almost bittersweet, caramel on top of the cool, creamy, eggy, sweet vanilla custard. It is an easy thing to love!  And with that kitchen torch, crème brûlée is a magical little dessert that's actually really easy to conjure up.  Cook the custard ahead of time since it needs to chill and keep it in the refrigerator until time to serve when the theatrics begin and you can shower the top with sugar and turn that torch on!

For my custard, I used half heavy cream and half milk. The crème brûlée was plenty rich and utterly delicious with flecks of vanilla beans running through every bite.  
Green Tea (Matcha) Crème Brûlée
That was the classic...and now let's chat about the second rendition I made: green tea crème brûlée.  I had a green tea (or matchacrème brûlée once well over ten years ago that I loved so much, it stayed with me all this time.  So I knew that if ever I got that kitchen blow torch and made crème brûlée, I'd have to try a green tea version.

Once upon a time, I worked in finance as an investment research associate.  Every so often, we would go on roadshow presentations - lunches hosted by companies looking to hold an offering, selling company stock to raise funds.  I'd be sitting there, listening and taking copious notes (fun times) that I'd need to turn into reports and such.  At least these meetings came with a good meal.  One time, I was at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York City for one of these roadshows and while I don't remember any other specifics about that day, I do remember the most delicious green tea crème brûlée served for dessert.  I was really surprised by how good it was and that's why I've thought about green tea crème brûlée for years.
That's my little story.  And really, the green tea version is so good.  I suppose that slightly bitter, grassy note to the tea gets mellowed by the sweet custard and there's a nice balancing effect happening. The green tea crème brûlée did not disappoint and lived up to the hype I had in my mind from that one experience.

My husband and I enjoyed both the vanilla and green tea crème brûlée together and we tried to decide which we liked best.  There was a lot of oohing and aahing in general and I think we remain undecided.  The vanilla is such a classic - thoroughly sweet.  Ironically, though the green tea tastes less sweet, there's actually a bit more sugar in it than the vanilla.  Both are divine and I'm really glad I decided to finally ask Santa for my little kitchen torch.


Learning to brulee...
I quickly realized brulee-ing takes some practice, and confidence!  My husband was home and wanted to take pictures of me during my inaugural brulee experience and the whole time I was doing it, I had visions of the ramekin bursting or setting my husband's hair on fire!  I was a nervous wreck.  
I did the green tea one first and I think it seriously took me about 10 minutes to brulee that one because I was afraid of going too close to the surface and...just afraid, period!  By the time I was done, the green tea custard beneath was too warm and melted but at least there were no mishaps!  I realized I had to get a lot closer to the sugar surface and the second (vanilla) one took less than a minute to caramelize (and you can see the difference in the topping)!  Who knew there was such a learning curve when it comes to using a kitchen blow torch!
And I was hoping for a nice evenly dark-brown layer of caramelized sugar but those dark spots seem inevitable to my inexperienced hand.  Luckily, every bit of it was delicious even if it didn't look exactly the way I envisioned.  That said, I welcome any kitchen torch wielding tips!

For the topping, I also tried using superfine sugar as well as regular granulated sugar separately to compare.  Some prefer superfine sugar because it melts more quickly and that helps you achieve the caramel layer quickly without warming and disturbing the custard too much.  But in my experience here, I didn't notice a marked difference between the two types of sugar.  
All I know for sure is that crème brûlée is very tasty!


Recipes:

Vanilla Crème Brûlée
Adapted from I Love Macarons

- For two servings (approximately 6-ounce ramekin servings) - 

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 vanilla bean
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar for custard
Granulated (or superfine) sugar for topping, approximately 1 1/2 teaspoons per serving

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Bring a kettle of water to a boil and set nearby.  Set two 6-ounce ramekins in a baking pan.

Place milk and cream into a small saucepan.  Scrape the vanilla seeds out of the vanilla bean and place it, along with the pod, into the pan.  Heat mixture, stirring often, until it is very hot and just starting to bubble up around the edges.

Whisk egg yolks with the sugar in a mixing bowl until it reaches a pale yellow. Temper the egg yolks by slowly streaming a bit of the hot milk and cream mixture into it while whisking constantly.  Whisk in the rest of the hot liquid, then sieve mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl or measuring cup.  

Pour custard into the ramekins.  Carefully pour hot water into the baking pan until water comes about halfway up the side of the ramekins.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until custard is set and just barely jiggles when moved.  Remove ramekins from the water bath, let cool, then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours until firm.

Right before serving, sprinkle each ramekin with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar.  Try to distribute the sugar evenly over the surface.  Use a kitchen blow torch and very carefully caramelize the sugar.  You should have a layer of dark golden brown caramel.  Let sit for 2 minutes before serving so the caramelized sugar can harden into a thin crispy layer that shatters under your spoon.  


Green Tea Crème Brûlée
Adapted from Just One Cookbook and recipe above

- For two servings (approximately 6-ounce ramekin servings) - 

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder (I use this one)
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar for custard
Granulated (or superfine) sugar for topping, approximately 1 1/2 teaspoons per serving

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Bring a kettle of water to a boil and set nearby.  Set two 6-ounce ramekins in a baking pan.

Place milk and cream into a small saucepan.  Gently whisk in the matcha green tea powder.  Heat mixture, stirring often, until it is very hot and just starting to bubble up around the edges.

Whisk egg yolks with the sugar in a mixing bowl until it reaches a pale yellow. Temper the egg yolks by slowly streaming a bit of the hot milk and cream mixture into it while whisking constantly.  Whisk in the rest of the hot liquid, then sieve mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl or measuring cup.  

Pour custard into the ramekins.  Carefully pour hot water into the baking pan until water comes about halfway up the side of the ramekins.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until custard is set and just barely jiggles when moved.  Remove ramekins from the water bath, let cool, then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours until firm.

Right before serving, sprinkle each ramekin with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar.  Try to distribute the sugar evenly on the surface.  Use a kitchen blow torch and very carefully caramelize the sugar.  You should have a layer of dark golden brown caramel.  Let sit for 2 minutes before serving so the caramelized sugar can harden into a thin crispy layer that shatters under your spoon.  



43 comments:

  1. Obviously it's been quite a while since I've had time to blog read...because I finally made it back here and see your beautiful newly designed site! I love it, Monica! But more importantly, this recipe looks deeeelicious ;) Ok, off to catch up on your other recipes...

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    1. Amy - you have been one busy mama and I'm just happy you are swinging by now. : )

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  2. Your creme brulee looks IN-SANE. It's making my tummy growl right now ~ I have a pen-size "blow torch" which would totally work for these!

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    1. Hi Natalie - really? Thank you! : ) I was amazed at how bad I was at the brulee-ing thing at first...and those weird spots! Anyway, I've come to embrace the "imperfect" and imperfections are kinda nice. :) I hope your little blow torch works. You know I've once or twice thought about using one of those mini zippo lighters in the past! haha

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  3. Yeah! I know you will love your torch and love eating homemade creme brulee. Isn't it funny how we forget some things but sometimes that one meal or dish can be saved in the memories for 20 years! I remember a restaurant I loved in the Denver area and my favorite dish - but that was 30 years ago - you're probably not even 30 years old! Ha! Anyway - they look amazing. Happy New Year!

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    1. It is amazing how some things stay with you and it's those memories that make up life, isn't it. We all have so many stories to tell - a lot surrounding food, it seems! : ) I might feel under 30 but I sailed past that milestone quite a few years ago. : )

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  4. Yay for getting a kitchen blow torch! I don't have one either because I feel the same way about having another gadget in the kitchen but you are totally convincing me with how awesome your creme brulees look. I love vanilla but the green tea one sounds super irresistible. So glad you got to finally make them :)

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    1. I still don't have a waffle maker and a long, long list of things I want but don't need. I think that mental list is one where we'll just slowly, eventually succumb to, Kelly! : ) Creme brulee is dangerous - so delicious! : )

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  5. You are killing me with delightful desserts like these! Yummo! And, I have wanted a kitchen blow torch for the longest time! I need to just buckle down and buy one!

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    1. Gotta make room for dessert! : ) I knew I wasn't the only one thinking that way about the kitchen blow torch. I have been joking with my husband about all the stuff I can brulee - not just dessert, you can "sear" your meat! haha

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  6. These look amazing- I love that thin crunchy layer of caramel on top!

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    1. I got the hang of it after the first one and then achieving that thin layer of crunchy caramel became a lot easier! Thank you! : )

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  7. Happy New Year Monica!! What a great story about discovering the matcha tea Creme brulee! I love the fact that food stories stay with us for years. Both these brûlées look delightful and the 'torching' looks great. Indeed, the kitchen blow torch is a great gadget, so many possibilities...have fun with it!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Jo! : ) Most of my stories involve food in one way or another, usually with a starring role. : ) I will definitely enjoy my torch now that I'm not so 'afraid' of it. haha

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  8. I think I have a kitchen blow torch somewhere...bought it a few years ago and used it once or twice, then that's all. Your creme brulee look heavenly!

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    1. I hear you - hope you dig that torch out and do something fun with it soon. : )

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  9. No kitchen is complete with out a torch!!! Is it horrible that I just want to lick your bowl of creme brulee from the screen? Creme brulee is my absolute favorite dessert but guess what I do not have a torch. I hope Santa or maybe the Valentines day cupid can bring me one as boy I have been missing out and will make sure to read your notes later on your helpful hints. Beautiful photos! Sharing!

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    1. haha - time for cupid to deliver, I think. ; ) Creme brulee is dangerously tasty and it's just that crunchy texture vs. the creamy center that just gets you. I'm glad you like it. Have a sweet year!

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  10. I used my torch all the time when I first got it, but I sorta forgot about it! You're reinspired me :) I totally want to make creme brûlée now...yours looks amazing!

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    1. haha - I can totally see that and that might just be how it goes for me but I finally succumbed after thinking about getting one forever!

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  11. Haha how cool that you asked for a kitchen blow torch for Christmas! I'm totally in love with your creme brulees; they look marvelous, especially the machta! (:

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    1. I pretty much put cookbooks and food related things on my wish list if I make one. : ) Glad you like it...I rarely have creme brulee and eating this reminded me of how good they are!

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  12. Do you know I own a kitchen torch and never use it? I have to change that. This creme brulee is perfection!

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    1. Might be time to dust it off and put it to good use. I know you can! : )

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  13. haha I have wanted a torch for a while now but just didn't want another gadget to keep in our house! But now you have me rethinking that.. lol

    And now I also feel like I need to try green tea creme brulee! They both look so good!

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    1. I never thought I'd use my ice cream maker as much as I do...so I think maybe we should just go ahead and get all these crazy things! Storage is another issue...

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  14. YUM! I love this, the green tea is so creative!!!

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    1. I had only eaten it (green tea creme brulee) that one time until I made this recently. I'm glad that taste memory wasn't just a figment of my imagination or from an overwhelming need for sugar at that time.

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  15. Both the versions looks really yum M.
    The best part of food is the stories that go with it. So many beautiful memories.
    So lucky to get one from Santa. My kids love creme brulee, so I have used mine a lot.

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    1. So true, Asha. It's not just the good food but the gathering, the memories, the feeling. : )

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  16. hahahahaha I almost didn't want to use my kitchen blow torch when I'd got it out of fear that I'll set the whole house on fire! But it was the best experience ever! Both your creme brulees look SOOOOOOO good!!!!! I'm totally fascinated with the green tea creme brulee. Must try it!!!!!! <3

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    1. Yes, I was way tense. If you look close, you can see my death grip on that torch! haha

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  17. I love a good creme brûlée, and this is no exception. Yum!

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  18. Congratulations on your lovely little present! I can tell you, once you start using it, you will get addicted. I have two of them..a small one and a bigger one that I bought later and they are my favourite gadgets. I make a lot of meringue based desserts and torching them makes them look amazing. I am yet to taste a green tea creme brule but going by the looks of it, I am sure it is delicious! Can;t wait to see more brule-ing action from your side:-)

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    1. It's making sense to me now....all those gorgeous meringue based cakes of yours must have totally been signaling my brain to get that kitchen torch already! : ) So many possibilities...I hope I'll put it to good use.

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  19. That green tea creme brulee is stealing my heart!! I have a blowtorch but honestly don't use it much. It's time to break it out and get to creme brulee-ing!

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    1. Yes, break it out, my friend! You could do some serious magic with it!

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  20. Monica! Thanks so much for trying my green tea creme brulee recipe! Yours looks PERFECT! I get addicted to creme brulee... so creamy and delicious. Now it's time to sear sashimi and braised pork belly with your kitchen torch! SO good! :) p.s. I shared your link on my Facebook page, but didn't tag your Facebook page as I'm not sure if you're currently using (and I don't see the button on your blog either). :)

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    1. Not perfect at all but thank you for saying that! And thank you for all your awesome recipes - green tea ones and otherwise! ; ) I am totally going to need to torch some pork belly! haha...love it. And thanks for sharing on FB. Believe it or not, I don't have a dedicated FB page for this little blog. I can't really call myself a 'blogger' at all, can I?!

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  21. Crème-brulee is one of my favorite desserts, both versions sound wonderful.

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    1. Thanks, Cheri. It is really good stuff!

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  22. Actually green tea is an wonderful remedy for making your health fit & perfect, if you have using ayurvedic its a added taste to drink so that green tea brand also increased in India, Thanks for this wonderful blog.
    Buy Green Tea online

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