Friday, April 29, 2016

Lemon Creme Brulee

What's your favorite dessert EVER?

You know, there are a lot of people that could answer that question without hesitation.  They have that one dessert that is their go to dessert and they eat it whenever possible.  Whether the restaurant has it on the menu, they request it for a birthday or any other occasion.

I, on the other hand, have never been able to answer that question.  If asked, I typically always say "It depends on what mood I'm in".  Which really is true.  I have several "favorites", but whether or not I want them depends on my mood.

But there is one dessert that ALWAYS makes me weak in the knees when I hear its name.  Creme brulee.

Whenever Spencer and I sneak out on a date night we'll enjoy our appetizer and entree.  Usually close to the end of the entree, I'm beyond stuffed and to the point of just being miserable.  And then the server comes around to check on us and asks that infamous question, "Did you save room for dessert"?  I take a deep breath and say no, while Spencer mutters "whatcha got"?  They go through their list and while it all sounds good, I can typically say no thanks.  Unless...
They say they two magic words.  Creme Brulee.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE creme brulee.  So, I take a deep breath, look and Spenc and we order our that magical dessert.

I'm not sure what it is about this dessert that is so special to me.  A simple custard, baked to perfection then chilled.  But that topping, though.  There's something so thrilling about tapping on and breaking through that melted, charred sugar and scooping up a spoonful of that smooth, velvety custard.  Each bit is absolute perfection.  I just can't help myself.

Until the other day, I had saved this dessert for the restaurants.  I was intimidated by this dessert.  I guess it was more of a fear of the unknown.  But, I finally decided to face my fear, do some research and try to conquer my favorite dessert.
And you know what, I did.  And it was so, so, so, easy to make.  AND I got to break out my handy, dandy kitchen torch and play with fire in the kitchen.  THRILLING.  Finally attempting my favorite dessert on my own only made me love it that much more.  I'm more obsessed now than ever before.

I loaded this one with fresh vanilla beans and lots of lemon zest.  The end result was a rich vanilla custard with a bright, refreshing hint of lemon in each bite.  The perfect bite of this, and any brulee, is a piece of the charred sugar and some of that smooth custard.  It's heaven.

Lemon Creme Brulee

2 Cups heavy cream
1/2 Cup sugar, divided
1 Vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
5 Large egg yolks
Zest of a large lemon


Preheat oven to 325.  Place half a cup of water in a baking dish, place in the oven while preheating.

Place heavy cream, one tablespoon of sugar, and the vanilla bean seeds and pod in a saucepan.  Place over medium-low heat and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Remove from heat, remove and discard bean pod.  Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

Place remaining sugar in a large bowl along with the lemon zest.  Rub zest and sugar together between fingers to release the oils from the zest.  Add the egg yolks to the sugar and whisk until smooth.  While whisking continuously, slowly pour half a cup of the warm cream in the egg mixture.  Once combined, continue whisking and slowly pour the remaining cream into the egg mixture.

Divide the custard among 4 ramekins.  Carefully place in the water bath, add more water if needed, making the water come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Place in the preheated oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, until just set.  The center may be a little jiggly.  Remove and allow to cool for about 10 minutes in the water bath.  Remove from water and allow to cool completely.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

When ready to serve, sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar evenly over the tops of the custard.  Using a torch, carefully melt the sugar until a thin layer of melted sugar is formed.  Serve.

Recipe source: A Lynsey original

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