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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Burnt Cream

When I was young, my favorite restaurant in town was the Renaissance themed Clinkerdaggers. To be completely honest, I wasn't really adventurous with food and would always have a bowl of the beef stew they called Steak Pottage and  always a Burnt Cream for dessert.
It was the theme, the large murals of Renaissance paintings, the fireplace, the pretty serving dishes that looked like pewter. (they weren't, pewter has a really low melt point, but the LOOKED like pewter)
My mom would take me for special lunches there just completely randomly. After a dance class, before art class. Despite being a strong women's libber and hippie, she had very old fashioned ideas about how a young lady should be raised. It was always so nice.
Burnt cream.. wow. Do you remember the first time you had creme brulee? I'm pretty sure no more perfect dessert exists. I'm biased I know, it's all memory for me, plus I love vanilla. The texture of the silky smooth with the crackle of sugar on the top, the richness of the eggs and cream, the unexpected complexity of good vanilla. I love creme brulee. Please don't mess mine up with a lot of things on top or under it, or by mixing pumpkin or chocolate into it. Just plain, if something that good can ever be plain, creme brulee.
Clink's has been closed a long time now. But the same company owns another restaurant locally, and when my husband wants to give me a special treat he takes me there. Where I still order the same thing. Not a beef stew but an artichoke/crab dip that is served with sourdough toast points, and always, the creme brulee. I have places I take the kids for it, and while my son is very adventurous in his food tastes, they always order creme brulee for dessert when go to those place. The picture above shows how much they enjoy it.
In my grandmother's recipe box, I found this treasure.

Burnt Cream
Recipe:from Clinkerdaggers Restaurant Serves: 6

1 Pint whipping cream
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
granulated sugar for the topping

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat cream over low heat until bubbles form around edge of pan.
Beat egg yolks and sugar together until thick, about 3 minutes. Gradually beat cream into egg yolks. Stir in vanilla and pour into 6 (6 oz) custard cups. Place custard cups in baking pan that has about 1/2 inch water in the bottom. Bake until set, about 45 minutes. Remove custard cups from water and refridgerate until chilled. Sprinkle each custard with about 2 tsp. granulated sugar. Place on top rack under broiler and cook until topping is medium brown. Chill before serving.

Remember,this recipe is at LEAST 25 years old. Before you could buy handy torches for 15.00 at any good kitchen wares store. I really recommend using a torch to burn the sugar and form the crusty caramelized sugar top. Also like most recipes from chefs, remember, most good commercial kitchens do NOT use the kind of vanilla you can get at the supermarket. They use a double strength vanilla. So if you are using a regular vanilla, double it.
And if you've never had creme brulee before, you should. Really.

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