It's just hubsy and I at home, which is why I often only make fancy desserts when we are invited to dinner parties, so I don't have to adjust a recipe to suit two people. I've made creme brulee usually for 4-6 people but the trouble is, it all ends up on our waistline, which is not ideal. So, a recipe that suits two people, for special occasions was the challenge!
Creme brulee is our all time favourite dessert! If it's on the menu at any restaurant I won't even look at any of the other desserts. I have been playing around with this recipe for a while now and I've finally got it perfect. It was by complete accident, as is most of my great recipes lol If you follow my instructions I guarantee you a smooth, rich, fully set creme brulee.
Before that, here's some tips I've learned from my numerous experiments.
Only use cream - many recipes use a mixture of milk and cream. No! It's creme brulee, not milk brulee. The custard just isn't the same when you add milk and you often have to bake it longer to get it to set.
More egg yolks isn't always better - Egg yolks in custard has two purposes. One is to enrich it and the other is to thicken it. You would think the more egg yolks you add the richer the custard. Well I tried 5 egg yolks and it tasted horrible, so more isn't better in this case.
Use real vanilla - Vanilla essence is good for baking, but I really think you need real vanilla for creme brulee. The whole point of heating the creme is to infuse the vanilla flavour, if you're using essence you're wasting your time. I use vanilla powder, but the traditional vanilla pod is good too.
Sugar is variable - Obviously you need sugar for the brulee, but for the creme itself, you don't need a lot. I used double the amount of sugar than this recipe states and it was border line sugar over load. I think 3 Tbs is best as you want some sweetness to come from the brulee too.
Fork it - I find that when I use a whisk I end up with a very frothy mixture. It's difficult trying to skim this froth off the top before baking and if you leave it on it creates a weird texture after baking. I learned, from another recipe, that using a fork will limit the amount of froth produced. Perfect!
Bake it low and slow - Baking times and temperatures is the difference between a perfectly set creme and a leaky mess. I've had many that have not been set, or just partially set. When you check on it, it should only have a slight jiggle in the center, If it's wobbling too much, it's not set. Your oven should never be over 160 C. The perfect custard needs to be baked slowly in a water bath. That part isn't optional.
Use appropriate sized dishes - This one took me ages to work out. Lets just say putting two ramekins in a massive roasting tin filled with water is of no benefit to you or the custard. This recipe is for two, so your roasting tray should be a 20cm x 20cm tray, like the ones you would use to make slices.
Creme Brulee For Two
1 vanilla pod, or one pinch of vanilla powder
3 egg yolks
4 Tbs sugar, plus more for the brulee
Place cream and vanilla in a saucepan on medium heat. Bring the cream up to a simmer, not a boil. You should see steam coming off it, but it won't be rapidly boiling. Once it has reached temp, turn the heat off and set aside to infuse and cool down for 5-7minutes. You want it to still be warm, but not hot or it will scramble your eggs.
In a bowl, place your sugar and egg yolks. Using a fork, whisk it together to combine.
If using a vanilla pod, remove the pod now from your cream. Add a splash of cream to the egg mixture and continue beating with your fork. Add a second splash, then add the rest of the cream. Whisk until combined. Pour into two ramekins.
Place ramekins into a tray and fill the tray will boiling water until it's halfway up the sides of your ramekin.
Place tray in the oven and bake at 160 C for 40-45 minutes. Check at 40 mins, if still quite wobbly, pop it back in for another 5 mins. Remove from the oven and remove from the water bath. Leave on counter to cool completely before popping in the fridge for 4 hours.
When you are ready to serve, sprinkle some sugar over the top of the creme and use a blow torch to melt it. Serve immediately!