Does a person really need any legitimate reason to wield a blow torch?
That tap-tap-tap when you test a creme brûlée’s competency is heavenly. Even more so when you figure out a way to make it super quick, without any fuss.
Now it is possible (in theory) to get that crispy caramelised top without a blow torch. But why would anyone in their right mind want to opt out of wielding a blowtorch? That aroma of burnt sugar that enters the room when you torch your desert is almost heavenly, as is the soft centre of the custard, speckled with vanilla bean and layered in fresh strawberry.
That guest in the corner that declared he would skip pudding, is definitely going to change his mind. Ah, temptation.
It started as a whim. An obsession, some may call it. The mission was set: make a creme brûlée. And then the plan gave force, when we invited my talented friends over for a casual weeknight meal. The need of the hour was a quick fuss free desert, which is big on flavour, low of effort, and has a bit of drama (obviously) in its presentation.
And drama it was. Enter me, with a tray full of slightly wobbly-centred custards, set with a toping of strawberry slices, along with a bowl full of sugar and my trusty torch. The final step being performed in the middle of my living room with food-coma induced diners was a great feat for me. It allowed me to enjoy the company of my friends, as well as put the finishing touches on desert. Win-win!
Mine is a version that I have devised for myself, using custard powder, milk, sugar and a vanilla pod to make a rich vanilla flavoured custard. I then added a layer of freshly sliced ripe strawberries to each filled ramekin, because well, strawberries and vanilla really are a match made in heaven. Even the slightly torched bits of the strawberry flesh tasted divine. I would definitely continue adding them to future creme brûlées, because lets be honest, there are going to be several more! To finish, a sprinkle of sugar, torched to crispy caramel gold perfection.
Ok, now I think I want one more. Damn this detox. Ugh!
- 3 tbs vanilla or plain custard powder
- 500ml milk
- 1 vanilla pod, slit lengthways
- 4-5 tsp sugar
- 3-4 fresh strawberries, sliced thinly
- Additional sugar, for the caramelised topping
- 6 ramekins
- Mix in the custard powder with 1/4th cup of the measured out milk. Set aside.
- Bring the remaining milk and the vanilla pod to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Lower the heat and slowly pour in the custard mixture, stirring continuously. You will notice the custard thickening almost instantly. Once you achieve an almost mayonaaise consistency, remove from the heat.
- You would have noticed that the vanilla beans have freckled the custard mixture. Discard the vanilla pod.
- Pour the hot mixture into the ramekins, top with 3 to 4 slices of strawberry each and allow to cool slightly before leaving to set in the refrigerator for 3 hours, at least.
- When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator and sprinkle each ramekin with about a tbs of sugar. Use your torch in concentric circles to evenly caramelise the sugar and get an even crust. Serve immediately.
- The total time mentioned above excludes time in the refrigerator to allow the custard to set, and thereafter I would assume 2 minutes per creme brûlée for the torching.