Ethan recently quit smoking, so I wanted to reward him with one of his favorite treats---crème brûlée! I *thought* I was going to go with Nigella's recipe, hence the cookbook in the background, but I realized her version made a giant casserole of it (not individual ramekins), plus it wasn't baked in a water bath, which I wanted to do.
I ended up going with this recipe, since it called for a pint of cream, which was my limit, ha ha.
The ingredients you'll need are: 4 egg yolks, 1 pint cream, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, plus a little extra sugar for the broiling part.
Preheat the oven to 275*F & get a bunch of water boiling, so you'll be prepared for the hot water bath. Scald the cream & vanilla by putting them in a saucepan over low heat, until the mixture begins to steam.
Meanwhile, whisk together the yolks & the sugar until combined.
It should look like this:
Once the cream is steaming, remove it from the heat & whisk about 1/2 a cup of it into the yolks, whisking constantly (or you'll end up with scrambled eggs). Repeat this tempering step, then whisk the yolks into the pan of cream. This should combine everything together without shocking/cooking it.
Divide the mixture between your ramekins. The recipe said it would make 4, but I only ended up filling 3, since I wanted the custard to be high in the ramekins, so the broiling would be easier & quicker.
Carefully pour the boiling water until it reaches about halfway up the ramekins. Place in the oven (using mitts!), & bake for about 35-45 minutes, or until the edges of the custard are set, & the middles wiggle like jello. Don't over-bake them, or the texture will be gross. Mine took about 10 minutes longer, since they were deeper. They'll continue to set as they chill. Remove the ramekins from the water bath & chill them until cold, preferably overnight.
Time for the crunchy top! Get your oven broiler super hot. If you have a torch, it works much better than the oven broiler, so use it! Take a paper towel & carefully blot off any moisture from the top of the custards. Sprinkle them with a thin, even layer of sugar, then place as close to the broiler as possible. You want to caramelize the sugar before you recook the custard & get it all melty again. Once you get the color you want, remove them & put them back in the fridge to chill for about another hour or so. If you wait too long before digging in, the topping will lose its crunch.
After all that hard work, share & enjoy the fruits of your labor! So rich...