December 23, 2012

Egg Nog Crème Brûlée

Egg nog is one of those heavenly things. And by golly, so is crème brûlée. I recently had a brain explosion when I realized you can put the two together. Actually, I have to confess that up until very recently, I didn't think crème brûlée was easy to make at all. Although I love making custards and crème caramel and basically anything with cream and eggs, I have had crème brûlée block all of my life up until now. Weird, considering my obsession with French cooking, and my French Canadian roots. It's because I don't have one of those little chef blow torches to burn the sugar. And even if I did, torches freak me out just a little bit. But I just clued in to the fact that you can simply burn the sugar under your oven grill. Dah dah dah. My life has been transformed. Now unfortunately, this means I went a little sugar-burning happy, as you can see in the photo. You only need to caramelize the sugar until it is golden and bubbling with a few flecks of black. Still, a very burnt sugar crust is also delicious.

Now here's a little French trivia for you: crème brûlée means burnt cream. And egg nog in French is "lait de poule", which literally translates as hen's milk. So I have been enjoying referring to my brûlée as HEN'S MILK BURNT CREAM!

On another note, it was recently suggested to me that I should provide an explanation for the absence of videos on this blog as of late. Well, I have been on the road a lot recently as I am in the process of leaving my job in Toronto and moving into a new phase of my life (one that will involve much more cooking and farming and video-making, so do stay tuned in 2013... ).  In the meantime, I have been living in various extremely kind people's homes (and kitchens) and taking a little break from video-making. So I leave you with a re-run of my Christmas video from last year and my warmest wishes to you and yours for a relaxing, joyful, and delicious holiday season. See you in the new year!


2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream (35% whipping cream)
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup fine cane sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp. rum
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

*1/3 cup superfine cane sugar for the topping (caster sugar)

*The best sugar for burning under the grill is superfine sugar. It can be hard to find it but it's easy to make at home. Simply put the sugar in a blender of food processor and pulse until the sugar is fine but not powdery.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until silky and ribbony. Add rum, vanilla, and nutmeg and whisk well. 

In a small saucepan, gently heat the cream on low until just before it boils. While whisking continuously, pour the cream onto the egg mixture. Don't stop whisking until it starts to thicken a bit (this signals that the eggs are starting to cook). 

Pour into small individual ramekins (or one large one). Place these on a baking pan filled with enough water so that it comes up to halfway up the exterior of the ramekins. Bake in this water bath for about 45 minutes at 300 F. It should be set but still quite wobbly. Cool the custard to room temperature (chill it in the fridge if not using right away). 

When ready to serve, if removing from the fridge, allow ramekins to come up to room temperature for a few minutes. Using a clean cloth, pat the surface dry of any condensation. Sprinkle about one teaspoon of your fine sugar to evenly cover the surface of each custard. Place under broil on the highest possible rack in the oven. Broil for about 5 to 10 minutes, rotating the ramekins a couple times to ensure even caramelization. An upside-down pan can also be used to bring the custards even closer to the top grill to speed up the process. Be careful not too over-burn, once the caramel is golden and bubbling, remove from the oven and allow the sugar to harden and cool slightly before serving. Can be served hot or cold.

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