Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Creme Brulee



Creme Brulee is one of my all-time favorite desserts, and since I haven't had it in so long, I was practically foaming at the mouth in anticipation for this week's TWD. I'd like to share with you my creme de la creme of creme brulee recipes: Ginger and Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee. It's from Bon Appetit and it has 200 reviews with a 97% "would make again" score (which is quite high!). The ginger adds a dimension to this dessert which is very special and also a bit unusual. I've stuck to this recipe for the last few years and have found that it's easy to leave out the ginger and equally as easy to sub in other flavors, just like Dorie mentions in her book, as well. I couldn't wait to see how Ms. Greenspan's Creme Brulee stacks up against my favorite. Unfortunately, the custard part of Dorie's Creme Brulee sat in the oven for ages, barely baking at a wee 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The recipe calls for a baking time of 50-60 minutes "or until set." At 80 minutes, I got nervous and took it out, even though it was still a bit jiggly. I figured it would set a bit more in the refrigerator, as it should chill for at least 3 hours, preferably longer. I really love Baking: From My Home To Yours, and, of course, I adore Dorie Greenspan but this recipe just fell short for me. It's cloyingly sweet, and the vanilla extract seems to cheapen the taste. I know that makes me sound like a snot-nosed home baker, but the vanilla bean in the Bon Appetit recipe gives it much greater depth, it seems. It might follow the whole argument regarding recipes with very few ingredients: use the best components you can. Furthermore, I had the issues of baking it for so long at such a low temperature and not feeling like it quite set like it should. I refrigerated the custards for 5 hours and then made the crackly topping and found that the custard was not quite set. Although it was delicious, the custard was too loose to do it's job, which is to support that awesome sugary topping. I refrigerated another custard to see if it fared better after a 24 hour rest in the refrigerator. The next day, the custard was really perfect and I was much happier with the texture. But the sugar! It's as though the sugar became concentrated overnight and became tooth-achingly sweet, which did not sit well with me. I compared Dorie's sugar specifications to my Ginger and Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee recipe and there's a bit more sugar in the Bon Appetit recipe, but also 2 extra egg yolks, which seems to dilute the sugar. Anyhow, the Bon Appetit recipe is still number one in my book. I'm glad I tried this week's TWD, though, and if you'd like to try too, check out Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking: From My Home To Yours. Also, please visit the other TWD bakers to see how their Creme Brulees turned out! And, Thanks for a great choice, to our hostess this week, Mari, of Mevrouw Cupcake.

7 comments:

Lori said...

very good to know! i don't like cloyingly sweet, and i've never made creme brulee, so i'd hate to make it the first time with a recipe that would disappoint. thanks for the notes!

vibi said...

The kind of creaminess one would simply dream of bathing in!
Even Cleopatra probably didn't get it soooooo smooth! LOL
BRAVO!

Engineer Baker said...

Good to know this one was a bit too sweet. I wonder if adding in another flavor besides vanilla would help too - these plainer desserts don't generally need as much sugar to balance them.

CB said...

Not sure if I just like "sweet brulee" or what but mine didn't seem overly sweet. I used vanilla beans like you prefer though. The ginger adaption sounds yummy. Sorry you weren't a fan but picture looks delish!
Clara @ iheartfood4thought

Madam Chow said...

Thanks for the comments - I did a rewind, and I'm glad I did - I'm not a fan of cloyingly sweet!

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

I've made the ginger and vanilla bean crème brûlée and it's truly fabulous! I think I'll have to make it again soon! I used a vanilla bean and extract and liked the super vanilla flavor, but I agree with your points. I prefer a richer and more stable crème brûlée, myself. Glad you took part though!

Tracey said...

I had to do a rewind this week since I didn't have a torch but thanks for the review! Your brulee looks good!