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Recipe File

Creme Brulee (Crème Brûlée)


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This is one "fancy" dessert that you can make ahead of time (I did this batch while watching TV) with a minimum of effort and still have all your guests excited about your culinary skills. Creme brulee should start with a custard base that is richer, creamier, and silkier than other cremes (creme anglaise, creme caramel, flan, etc.). On top of that custard should be a layer of caramelized sugar. This sugar can be thick or thin. A thick layer is usually produced by caramelizing sugar in a pot and pouring the liquid caramel over the custard. Thin layers (some as thin as paper) are produced by directly heating a sugar layer using a broiler or torch. I make my creme brulee with a torch and turbinado sugar.

The ingredients needed are (clockwise from top) 2 cups heavy cream, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 8 large egg yolks, and 1/2 cup sugar.


First pour the sugar into the egg yolks.


Beat the yolks until smooth.


Heat the heavy cream until almost simmering (you can bring to a simmer and let it cool a minute). Add heavy cream to the egg yolks one tablespoon at a time while stirring vigorously. This will temper the eggs so as to not curdle them (or make scrambled eggs) when exposed to the heat of the heavy cream.


When about 1/4 cup of heavy cream has been integrated into the yolks, pour the yolks into the heavy cream and mix until smooth.


Now, using a fine mesh sieve, strain the custard mixture to remove any small clumps that may remain in the mixture. This step will help ensure a silky texture to the custard. Blend in the vanilla extract after the mixture has been strained.


Pour the mixture into six to eight ramekins depending on size. (Makes a little more than eight four-ounce creme brulees.) In the picture below, I filled six four-ounce ramekins and two six ounce ramekins (the six-ouncers were not full).


Place the ramekins in a baking pan. Pour boiling water into the pan (be careful not to get water into the ramekins), so that the water level is halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cooking the custards in a water bath will provide a low even temperature for the custards to cook evenly and set properly. Place in an oven preheated to 250°F for about one hour.


After an hour, check to see if the custards are done. We want them to be set on the outside edge, but jiggly (like jello) at the center. The easiest way to do this is to take a pair of tongs with food grade rubber bands wrapped around the ends to help grip the ramekins. Pick up a ramekin and shake to see if the centers jiggle. If only the center jiggles a little, it's done. If the whole thing is set, remove immediately - it'll be a little over done, but still delicious. If it's not done, just put it back in the water bath and check again in ten minutes. Once the custards are done, let them cool on a cooling rack to room temperature. This will let the custards finish cooking the centers on their own.


Wrap the custards in their ramekins in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least eight hours before serving.

About an hour before serving, remove the plastic wrap from each ramekin and use a paper towel to gently soak up any moisture that may have extruded from the custard tops. Pour about a teaspoon of turbinado ("sugar in the raw") sugar in the middle of each custard. Tilt the ramekin and gently shake to let gravity move the sugar around until the top surface of the custard is covered evenly with turbinado sugar. Using a kitchen butane torch, propane blow torch, or welding torch (whatever strong open flame you've got lying around), heat the sugar until it bubbles and changes color. With a small butane torch, I take my time and don't move from one side of the creme brulee to the other until the spot I've been working on has achieved the brown color that I want. This takes a little over a minute for each creme brulee. (The process is faster with a larger torch.) Don't worry about heating up the custard underneath, we'll refrigerate the creme brulee for a bit before serving. Do worry about lighting your kitchen counter on fire. I usually place the ramekin on a piece of aluminum foil placed over a cooling rack.

Once you're done scorching your cream, place the ramekins back in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes. The caramel will still be hard, but if you wait too much longer, the sugar will start to soften and dissolve into the custard.



Crème Brûlée (serves eight)
Preheat oven to 250?F (120?C)
8 large (135 g) egg yolksmixtemper and mixstrainmixbake 250?F (120?C) 1 hr. in water bathrefrigerate 8 hourscaramelize
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
2 cups (475 mL) heavy creamheat until almost simmering
1/2 tsp. (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
1 tsp. (4 g) turbinado sugar
Copyright Michael Chu 2004
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Written by Michael Chu
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208 comments on Creme Brulee (Crème Brûlée):(Post a comment)

On October 27, 2005 at 04:53 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Very cool. Up to this point I only knew how to hard-boil eggs and prepare macaroni and cheese. This seems simple, straightforward and impressive.


On October 27, 2005 at 04:56 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Let's say one didn't have a torch available. Any workarounds?


On October 27, 2005 at 04:56 AM, Eric (guest) said...
An old baker's trick for handling hot ramekins is to take a bowl of ice water, dip your finger tips in the bowl for about 10 seconds then simply pick up the hot bowl with you hands. Trust me it works and it impresses the crowd, but don't try it with metal (if you're an engineer reading this, I shouldn't have to explain why).


On October 27, 2005 at 04:57 AM, gizmo (guest) said...
It's best to use wide, shallow ramekins that you can fill nearly to the top. This allows you to maximize the surface area to volume ratio -- more of that yummy crunchy top -- and to melt the sugar all the way to the edge. If the ramekins aren't full, you'll end up with a ring of pale custard around the edge because the heat will find somewhere else to go.


On October 27, 2005 at 04:57 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Workaround for blowtorch and more:

Workaround for no blowtorch is an oven with a BBQ-setting. It should work with both gas ovens and electrical ovens that haven open heating coils. Put the oven into BBQ-setting, for electrical ovens, wait until the coils are glowing red. Place your cremes directly under the BBQ-heat-source as close as it gets (you want maximum heat - the quicker the operation goes, the better, you do *not* want to heat the custard too much). It is also crucial to leave the oven door ajar the whole time to prevent general heating of oven and, by extent, custard.

Another creme-brulee-thing: In Belgium, where poeple cook more or less like in france, you go about caramelizing the sugar and refrigerating in the opposite order. You first cool the custard without the sugar. Immediately prior to serving - you can actually do this at the table - pour the sugar over the custard (brown sugar works best) - and caramelize. The sugar is then served sizzling hot, while the custard underneath is mostly cool. The top layer of custard may get a bit warm. So much better! Also, be generous about the sugar. You want a complete layer of caramelized sugar to break through.

Another tip: Add a small amount of Grand Marnier and/or orange shavings (is that the word for bits of paring?) to the custard. Only very littleYou want enough to enhance the taste, but you don not want to actually taste the orange. Very good, and you can call it creme brulee a l'orange (more french words = good).


On October 27, 2005 at 04:57 AM, Michael Chu said...
It should be noted that under the oven broiler the caramel crust that you get is probably going to be thicker than using a torch. A third method is to actually caramelize sugar in a pot and pour a thin layer over the custard. This forms the thickest layer of the three methods, but many enjoy the novelty (especially if you don't have a broiler or torch).

I've updated the recipe summary to include the refrigeration of the custard and the brulee step.


On October 27, 2005 at 04:57 AM, JohnLenton (guest) said...
"About an hour serving," should probably read "About an hour before serving,"


On October 27, 2005 at 04:58 AM, an anonymous reader said...
> orange shavings (is that the word for bits of paring?)

it's called 'orange zest'


On October 27, 2005 at 04:58 AM, Ben FrantzDale (guest) said...
People have asked about torches. You can pick up a standard household propane torch at Home Depot for $12 for a torch and about $3 for a fuel canister. At that price, there is no excuse for an engineer not to own one. They are just so much fun. What I don't understand is why little "creme brule torches" cost $20 to $40. Given the price/performance of a household propane torch, what's the point of the little ones?


On October 27, 2005 at 04:59 AM, Michael Chu said...
The big torches work faster too. I got my little torch as a gift... I think that's what they are good for - giving as gifts. I use the little one because it's compact and takes up very little space in my kitchen.


On October 27, 2005 at 04:59 AM, an anonymous reader said...
What about using small bits of plum as a bed for the Creme Brulee?...


On October 27, 2005 at 05:00 AM, libabo (guest) said...
there is also a way of not caramelixing it at all, instead making a syrup sauce and putting it to teh dishes before adding the custard. when serving put the bruleé upside down on a small plate and voilá!


On October 27, 2005 at 05:00 AM, Michael Chu said...
re: creme brulee without caramelization

The problem with not caramelizing the creme brulee is that you haven't made creme brulee. In french, creme brulee literally translates as "burnt cream". Without the caramelization, you simply have a custard. A custard sitting on a syrup sauce is creme caramel or a flan - both of which usually you bake with a caramel base in the ramekin which liquifies byt he time the custard is set and forms a syrupy sauce that coats the custard after it's been removed from the mold/ramekin. An awesome dessert, but not creme brulee...


On October 27, 2005 at 05:00 AM, an anonymous reader said...
one should never, ever use vanilla extract when making creme brulee. it flavors the custard with a slightly alcohol residue.

instead use vanilla pods. after bringing the sugar and cream mixture to a boil, take it off the heat and scrape the beans out of 1 vanilla pod, add the pod as well and let steep for 15 minutes. remove the pod and continue with the rest of the recipe.

the difference in flavor is incredible. i have nothing against using vanilla extract in cakes, cookies, etc. but in something as sublime as creme brulee, where the flavor of the vanilla really shines through - only real pods will do.


On October 27, 2005 at 05:00 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Instead of using zest, which in my opinion detracts from the texture of the custard, I like to add the entire peel of a lemon and orange while the custard is cooking, then remove when removing the vanilla pod. This achieves a very delicate citrus flavor as an undercurrent to the vanilla.


On October 27, 2005 at 05:01 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I sprinkle a little bit of ground cinnamon on the top after the torching and it gives it a nice flavor. BTW great recipe, everyone that that has tasted it has loved it. Thanks


On October 27, 2005 at 05:01 AM, an anonymous reader said...
you said that you should never use liquid vanilla extract. Well, that's all I have. Will it still taste ok? Also, I can't let it sit for however long you said to let it sit. Is like four hours enough?


On October 27, 2005 at 05:01 AM, Michael Chu said...
re: vanilla extract

Well, in my recipe, I use vanilla extract - but as one anonymous poster commented, it will not be as clear of a vanilla flavor as compared to using real vanilla. Tasting the two side by side will definitely show the difference, but if you don't have vanilla beans around then, by all means, use extract. (Whatever you do, don't leave the vanilla out...)

re: refrigeration time

Four hours is a bit short, but if that's all the time you can give it, then give it a try. Usually, I make the creme brulee at least a day in advance, so refrigeration time is not a difficulty.


On October 27, 2005 at 05:02 AM, Peter (guest) said...
I like your use of recipe cards, however, it would be nice to see some more culinary specifics when describings steps. Somes terms that can be used for this recipe are:

Whisk
Scald

What program did you use to make the recipe card? I think it's brilliant.


On October 27, 2005 at 05:02 AM, Michael Chu said...
re: recipe cards

The recipe summaries are currently hand-coded in html.


On October 27, 2005 at 05:03 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Anyone have a problem with their hardware store torch not working upside down? My doesn't and I can't very well hold my creme brulee upright.


On October 27, 2005 at 05:03 AM, an anonymous reader said...
There is one more option for creme brulee that may be of some interest. Although difficult to find, a creme brulee iron is the traditional way to caramelize the topping, as the recipe dates back before the invention of ovens with broiler settings (not BBQ, wanted to clear that up) or butane torches. A creme brulee iron is simply an iron disk with a long handle that is heated in a fire or boiling water then applied directly to the granulated sugar. Just a bit of archaic curiosity.


On October 27, 2005 at 05:03 AM, Michael Chu said...
re: traditional methods to caramelize

The traditional creme brulee iron is called a salamander.


On October 27, 2005 at 05:03 AM, an anonymous reader said...
reg: real vanilla vs extract

In all my travels I've noticed that the top hotels use the real vanilla and the difference is incredibly better. Any suggestions on where to get the beans inexpensively as the cost is ussually $20 on up here in CA. for only about 4 pods.


On October 27, 2005 at 05:04 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Anyone have a problem with their hardware store torch not working upside down? My doesn't and I can't very well hold my creme brulee upright.

I find that if the propane tank is very full, the torch will work upside down. Otherwise I hold the ramekin up in an oven mitt.


On October 27, 2005 at 05:04 AM, an anonymous reader said...
In all my travels I've noticed that the top hotels use the real vanilla and the difference is incredibly better. Any suggestions on where to get the beans inexpensively as the cost is ussually $20 on up here in CA. for only about 4 pods.

A good reliable source for vanilla beans is Vanilla-Saffron Imports, in San Francisco.


On October 27, 2005 at 05:05 AM, an anonymous reader said...
will a couple of hours in the freezer do?


On October 27, 2005 at 05:05 AM, innaphog (guest) said...
I like my creme brulee warm...or at least room temperature. When I am served it at good restaurants, it comes to the table just out of the broiler. The carmel is crusty (and about a third of the creme is warmish. Very nice. Since I live in France I think the idea is not heretical.

Other: vanilla is not the only flavoring used. In fact, one very nice variation is to set on one dessert plate three ramekins with the different flavors. Ginger is nice, green tea, cinnamon, herbs (basil is amazing). You are only limited by your imagination. Just infuse the milk with the flavor of choice.


On October 27, 2005 at 05:05 AM, an anonymous reader said...
If you don't have a torch on hand you can use your broiler


On October 27, 2005 at 05:05 AM, an anonymous reader said...
cool indeed, i'm doing a project on it


On October 27, 2005 at 05:06 AM, an anonymous reader said...
An ice water bath will work wonders for chilling creme brulee in a hurry - you can make a batch from start to finish in under three hours using a water bath to chill the cooked custards.

Freezing is also an accecptable method to chill the custards. It also has the added benefit that when you're done brulee-ing the sugar the custard should still be nice and cold.


On October 27, 2005 at 07:35 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Vanilla beans can be purchased for surprisingly cheap prices on eBay, in bulk.


On November 02, 2005 at 06:53 PM, guest (guest) said...
Subject: Creme Brulee
You can find a creme brulee iron/salamander several places on the net. It gives the surface a bit more of an uneven look, more blackened caramel in spots and more crunch in others. This is the traditional look and feel for creme brulee and is a desireable effect. Plus, it gives you a greater intimacy with the dish you are preparing than flaming it with a blow torch or using the broiler.


On November 15, 2005 at 04:43 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: chocolate?!?
as a chocoholic, the next logical step in my mind is to add chocolate to this already heavenly dessert

my dad recently tried a chocolate creme brulee mix, but was not satisfied

any ideas on how to make a chocolate creme brulee from scratch?

thanks!


On November 17, 2005 at 06:37 PM, Carmine (guest) said...
You can make the crust another way, too. My sister could never get the broiler method to work and she had a torch leak then flare back at her (she wasn't burned, but she was scared) so she made circles of sugar on tin foil, caramelized them in the oven and then just put them on the creme brulee. She said it worked well (I wasn't present, but she's fussy, so I imagine it worked nicely).


On November 23, 2005 at 02:10 PM, Alexuma (guest) said...
Subject: HELP! I can't figure out how to fill my torch with butane!
I bought one of those expensive torches and cannot fr the life of me figure out how to fill it...any suggestions?


On November 23, 2005 at 05:46 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: HELP! I can't figure out how to fill my torch with buta
Alexuma wrote:
I bought one of those expensive torches and cannot fr the life of me figure out how to fill it...any suggestions?

Usually there is a port at the base of the torch that lets you fill it from a larger canister you can pick up at the supermarket (the butane canisters used for cooking on a portable stove). Generally, you take the nozzle of the butane cannister and insert it into the port on the base of the torch and pres to release butane into the mini-torch. However, I suggest you find the instructions that came with your torch or find someone who has the same model of torch and read their instructions.


On November 24, 2005 at 01:55 AM, eyespy3017 (guest) said...
Can I use 1 big round baking dish to make 1 big creme brulee?? It is shallow, about an inch.


On November 24, 2005 at 04:49 AM, Michael Chu said...
eyespy3017 wrote:
Can I use 1 big round baking dish to make 1 big creme brulee?? It is shallow, about an inch.

Yes, you should have no problem with that. The cooking time may have to be adjusted, but it will probably still work if you don't make any adjustments at all.


On November 29, 2005 at 12:59 AM, Becks from New Zealand (guest) said...
Subject: Its not hard and like jelly like creame caramel
Hey Everyone.

I made cream caramel once and it was hard and more like a jelly (different from American jelly) it was wobley. Anyhow I have tasted creame burle a couple of times but was wondering if the way that resturant cooked it was like a secret recipe as I dont understand how they made it so creamy. Is it the cream in the brulee that is so different than just milk in a cream caramel??? I know its a real dumb question but I dont want to waste my time if the recipe is just going to be hard again.


On December 03, 2005 at 09:03 PM, seraphicNEU (guest) said...
Subject: torch it!
the making your own careml and using the broiler on the stove did not work for me. I have not tried using the salamander but I believe the best way to go is to use the torch.


On December 10, 2005 at 06:07 AM, J (guest) said...
Subject: Flavoring ideas
We make Creme Brulee where I work but flavor it in different ways. The most recent batch was made using vanilla beans in the cooking (the insides were scraped out and added together). After the creme was finished cooking but before baking, we added blue flower Earl Grey tea to the mixture. We then let it sit in a cool place for the rest of the day. The next day, we strained it through a fine strainer (we call it a chinois) and baked it. The creme has a light tan color when prepared in this way. Just before serving we torch it, then put cherries and whipped cream on one side and serve it immediately. It's marvelous.

It was mentioned that vanilla extract leaves an alcohol taste. I've only used the beans when making the creme, but there is vanilla extract available that is in glycerin instead. It may not be in standard grocery stores, but I think health food stores often stock it. May be simpler than tracking down vanilla beans.


On December 20, 2005 at 05:26 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Help finding a strainer.
Any idea where I can purchase a sieve or "chinois" that is fine enough for this application. More specifically, a distributor and model would be great. There are various styles and sizes available online but it's impossible to tell if the mesh is fine enough for this job. Thanks!


On December 20, 2005 at 11:52 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Creme Brulee, Chinois, Vanilla Extract
If you cannot find vanilla beans, add & blend the vanilla extract just before pouring it into the ramekins.

Williams Sonoma on line is a good place to buy everything one would need, including a chinois.

My recipe calls for a tsp of orange zest and vanilla bean to simmer with the cream for 15 minutes. The bits of peel are strained out by the chinois leaving a smooth, creamy texture.


On December 25, 2005 at 05:54 PM, gscott (guest) said...
Subject: Creme Brulee
On the subject of vanilla-if you use extract, the creme brulee will be delicious. However, if you have ever used real vanilla bean, there is a noticable difference, and you'll not want to use extract again. Also, I have added a tablespoon or so of chambourd liqueur, giving the dessert an excellent raspberry flavor.


On December 27, 2005 at 12:20 AM, Smillie - OzFire - (guest) said...
Subject: Vanilla
Here in Australia there are two very different products available
Vanilla Extract and Vanilla essence
the essence is crap - just a flavour in alcohol - very cheap
the essence however is the pulp of the vanilla bean pod.
Its flavour is excellent although not as good as good fresh pods.
It is thick and paste like and well worth buying. but expensive

Just tried a Crème Brûlée with basil leaves infused in the cream with the real vanilla pods. Fantastic... quite Surprising, maybe needs a different name though...

I used to have a branding iron with the restaurants logo to scortch the tops, looked great.


On December 27, 2005 at 12:22 AM, Smillie - OzFire - (guest) said...
Subject: oOPPPS
oops = Sorry

The extract is the good stuff the essence is crap...


On December 29, 2005 at 10:24 PM, Skilleman (guest) said...
Subject: Microwave oven?
Has anybody coocked Creme Brulee successfully in a microwave oven? I'm thinking of the custard. Any ideas/tips/thoughts on the topic?

I love Creme Brulee, and have easy access to vanilla beans. In Norway we have something called vanilla sugar, and it works nicely when beans nowhere near.

BTW: A great site for us engineers... :)


On December 30, 2005 at 11:40 AM, spki (guest) said...
Subject: creme brulee
My creme brulee is too runny - it has been in the fridge for 24 hours. Can I salvage it for a dinner party tomorrow night?


On December 30, 2005 at 07:14 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Salvaging undercooked Creme Brulee
spki -- put it back in the oven (in a water bath) and cook it some more. I've done this before and it worked -- and should help save your new year's dessert!

Alternative would be to turn it out of the ramekin onto a dessert plate and spoon a light caramel sauce over it and call it creme carmel instead of creme brulee.


On January 09, 2006 at 05:01 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Is black vanilla beans ok? How long and where can you store the vanilla beans?


On January 09, 2006 at 06:57 AM, Michael Chu said...
Anonymous wrote:
Is black vanilla beans ok? How long and where can you store the vanilla beans?

Are there non-black vanilla beans? I believe that all vanilla bean pods turn dark brown or black when dried and matured.

Vanilla beans should be able to be stored indefinitely when properly stored. Keep them in a cool dry place in an airtight container. Don't store them in the refrigerator or the freezer. I've heard of many people storing them in vodka or covering them in sugar with great success. The vodka and sugar then becomes vanilla flavored after a few weeks.


On January 24, 2006 at 03:50 AM, MichaelBlack (guest) said...
Subject: Additions
I just finished making the custard portion of this. Man, it was prety easy. But after about 30 minutes in the oven, I topped the custard with 2 half slices of fresh kiwi on both sides of 2 frozen blueberries and either a frozen raspberry or a frozen blackberry. Since I have fruit on top, the caramel glaze should be made in a pan and pour on instead of touching. I added a an ounce of Kuhlua to this glaze. Just another twist. This recipe made 7 servings of about 5.5 oz each.


On January 27, 2006 at 10:16 PM, liz (guest) said...
Subject: Why do you bake creme brulee in a water bath?
A friend of mine explained it to me, but I just didn't get it.

Why is creme brulee on it's own mealy and coarse, but baked in a water bath smooth and creamy. Why oh why?

Responses appreciated.


On January 28, 2006 at 02:07 AM, Ray (guest) said...
Hi Liz
Simply put the water bath evens out the temperature absorption, you need that amount oh heat to cook it but it must penetrate slowly to stop the protein clumping and forming scrambled eggs.

If you cook scrambled eggs in a double boiler for the creamiest eggs ever.
cheers Ray


On January 29, 2006 at 06:15 AM, Cade (guest) said...
Subject: Sweet Potato variant
I came up with the following recipe for a contest requiring sweet potatoes to be used in every dish. (if you have seen the TV show [u:7e6b0b98a6]Iron Chef[/u:7e6b0b98a6], this was the basic idea.) Everyone really loved my creme brulee, so I am sharing it here.

Crème Brûlée with sweet potatoes

6 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
about 2 medium sweet potatoes (sorry I did not measure- it might have been less)

Pretty much follow the recipe for regular creme brulee but with the following additions:

Peel, cube and steam the sweet potatoes until soft. Smash the sweet potatoes with a potato ricer to get them smooth. I guess you could use canned sweet potatoes and mush them up in a food processor as well, but I did not want to make sweet potato paste, which might happen if you over-mix them in a food processor. Besides a food processor costs a couple hundred dollars while a potato ricer costs less than ten.
I guess you could do other things to get the sweet potatoes nice and cooked and smooth, I just choose to steam them because it was easy.

Let the mushed-up sweet potatoes rest until room temperature, and mix them in with your egg mixture.

To incorporate brown sugar with the eggs, I sifted it with my sieve into the eggs to remove any lumps, and to make sure I added it a little at a time so that the sugar incorporated itself into the eggs slowly. I was probably being over-cautious, but brown sugar likes to lump, and custards are supposed to be smooth.

After tempering the cream into the egg-sugar-sweet potato mixture, you will need to really sieve the resulting custard. There is a lot of fiber in sweet potatoes, and while healthy, it must be strained out for a nice smooth custard.

(If anyone can think of something good to do with all this fiber and leftover pre-custard that remains in the sieve I'd like to know, it should be pretty tasty. )

Since we are already adding sweet potatoes, you could consider adding flavors other than vanilla. Allspice, cinnamon, ginger or some combination thereof are good candidates.


On April 09, 2006 at 07:46 PM, wadeb (guest) said...
Subject: french press for custards
I was recently making flan for the first time, and was searching around the kitchen for a fine mesh strainer, when I discovered a french press that I rarely use for coffee or tea.

A french press is a tall cylinder with a spout, and a fine mesh screen on a plunger. It's typically used for steeping coffee and then straining out the grinds.

After mixing in the cream you just pour it into the press, push down the plunger and then pour straight into the ramekins.

The screen does a great job straining the custard - it's very fine and the plunger makes it go quickly, and the spout and lid make pouring into the ramekins a lot easier.

-Wade


On April 12, 2006 at 02:38 AM, zipcoon (guest) said...
Subject: Vanilla Beans
After making this recipe twice I have come to the immediate conclusion that you DO NOT want to use vanilla extract! I tasted a noticeable difference by using fresh vanilla beans that I purchased from Beanilla Vanilla. I have used vanilla beans in many of my recipes and always buy mine from them.

Their website address is http://www.beanilla.com


On April 24, 2006 at 01:59 AM, purple_earth172@hotmail.c (guest) said...
Subject: solidifying
help!
the creme brulee i tried to make did not solidify! I followed the instructions exactly and it just did not seem to work!
My friend tried making it with double the cooking time and it still did not seem to completely solidify... any suggestions?


On April 26, 2006 at 11:59 AM, jason_lee (guest) said...
Subject: RE: Vanilla Beans
Thanks Zip for the Tip!

I purchased some vanilla beans from www.beanilla.com and added them to this wonderful recipe. Good thing I bought a couple of extra because I ended up botching this recipe the first time through.

No problems with solidifying though....

Not sure why purple_earth?!?


On May 03, 2006 at 01:07 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Random thoughts
Here are some random answers to previous questions:
- The best place to get vanilla beans is off of ebay. There are a couple of good sellers (organic-vanilla and arizonav) that sell excellent quality beans. The buy-it now price is usually low to begin with, but you can also snipe one of their auctions and get a large batch for practically nothing (then give the rest to friends and family, if it's too much for you).
- I've had a great success rate with using a the oven's broiler to caramellize the sugar. The tricks are: a) leave the oven wide open throughout the process b) get the ramekin within 2 inches of the coil c) position the ramekin so it's under the loop where the coil turns around (that's the most evenly heated area d) pay close attention because the difference between perfection and charcoal is about 5 seconds.
- You can make express-brulee by using powdered sugar instead of the granulated sugar (the powder has cornstarch in it, which helps gelatinize the mixture faster). Then instead of putting the cream-egg mixture into the ramekins, pour it back into the pan and heat it (whisking ferociously) for another 3-4 minutes. Then pour into the ramekins and cool.
- Try the above extress method combined with Jamie Oliver's custard tart shells - the result is heavenly, I promise! (I don't like Jamie's custard as much as Michael's recipe)
- The most common reason why the custard doesn't harden is that you start out baking it in cold (or lukewarm) water. Make sure you boil the water before pouring into the pan in the oven (an electric kettle is probably the best way).
- I like the citrus-flavored creme brulee as much as the original version. Just put a piece of lemon or orange peel (one large chunk, not shavings) into the cream, heat it up, then let it sit for 10 minutes and heat it back up again. Then remove the peel and proceed as usual (if you use vanilla beans, first scrape them then put the scrapings and the shells in the cream and follow the same process to extract as much vanilla out of the the shells as possible)
- The hardware-store torch may work better upside down if you let it run for a few minutes before you start the bruleeing process (it heats up the torch, as well as depletes the tank so the liquid level is lower). If all is lost, take it back to the store and trade up to a self-igniting regulated version ($5 extra)
- You can speed up cooling by putting the brulee in the freezer (don't let it freze though!). The low temperature also helps keep it cool despite the torching.


On May 04, 2006 at 07:46 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: ...one more thing...
While I have successfully caramelized the sugar under the broiler, I got much more even and professional-looking results with a propane torch. Just get a "basic use" propane soldering kit (such as the Bernzomatic UL100 -- which works fabuluously, even upside down) at your friendly megamart for right around $12. Skip on the tiny butane toy-torches - they cost almost as much, have a very narrow flame and demand continuous refilling.


On May 18, 2006 at 03:11 AM, josiegg (guest) said...
Subject: creme brulee gone wrong
I made creme brulee but although I thought they had set, )slight jiggle in centre), when we ate them they were runny. Delicious but off putting since raw eggs invloved. Anybody else have this prob. I cooked them double recipe time.


On May 22, 2006 at 04:51 AM, Kewlgent (guest) said...
Subject: Wow.... Very good
Hello,

Well I want to thank you for the recipe... It was delicious... It looked like an easy recipe and I was trying to impress my date on my culinary capabilities...I just want to share that it worked...
Thank You again and also the followup comments... The vanilla bean I will try next time and along with the other variations...
me


On May 29, 2006 at 06:33 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Does butane fuel leave harmful residue on brulees?
Hi everyone:

All the times I've made creme brulee I've used the broiler to caramelize the sugar.

I'd always known the torch was an alternative and heard how well it caramelized sugar, so I decided it was time to purchase one and keep it handy.

Well, after reading all the precautions, quite frankly it scared me and I wondered if it was safe to even have that thing anywhere in my home! The fuel seemed like such a hazard -- clearly labeled by the state of California as containing chemicals and by-products known to be carcinogenic (!). This just scared the bejeezus out of me and I returned the thing.

I got one of those Bernzomatic kitchen torches as a gift, and I'm unsure if I should use it -- I have the same concerns and reservations about it as the regular torch regarding fuel.

Can anyone enlighten me if the byproducts of the fuel deposit on the food while the torch is being used? I don't want to have an irrational fear of this, but what I read on the label freaked me out and I don't want to contaminate my food.

Also, for those of you that have a typical hardware store Bernzomatic propane torch, how do you safely store it?

I live in a small condo, so I'm worried about small spaces with hot temps. I keep imagining that if I put it in my garage one day I'll hear an explosion. :shock:

Thanks for any and all input about this.


On May 30, 2006 at 10:41 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Re: Food Safety
Anyone? C'mon, surely one of you engineers knows something about this, no?


On June 01, 2006 at 10:54 AM, josiegg (guest) said...
Subject: exploding torch burners?
Dear anonymous, try searching the internet for your answer. Although your concerns are valid, its not really something I have ever considered to be of danger.
See how you go, good luck.
ps, live on the wild side and use one!!! :P


On July 16, 2006 at 01:03 AM, pixel (guest) said...
Subject: hot cream into beaten egg yolks
I understand why one heats the cream to extract the most flavour out of the vanilla pods and seeds. But why is it necessary to add the hot cream to the egg yolk/sugar mixture? This increases the chance of creating lumps(cooked egg yolks). Time wise putting the hot cream and vanilla into a ice water bath and cooling the cream to below 55 degrees adds 10-15 minutes to the process which is more than compensated for by the removal of the lump removal process.

I tried cooking the Creme Brulee at 90 degrees for 1½ hours(another recepe). Still was a bit runny after I cooled them down. I'll try the 120 degree/waterbath/1 hour method next time.


On August 06, 2006 at 08:01 AM, karak (guest) said...
Subject: easy recipe?
The only successful creme brulee I've made has been using a real easy recipe where all the ingredients were simply mixed (no scalding of the cream) and then baked in the ramekins. The recipe is at
http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/262/Easy_Creme_Brulee6793.shtml

and has received good reviews. I thought it was delicious, but I'm wondering why everyone doesn't make it this easier way? Is there anyone who had tried both ways and can tell me if the more involved recipes are worth the effort?


On August 16, 2006 at 08:15 PM, KEWI (guest) said...
Subject: TOrch
When I torched my creme brulees, they tasted burnt - how far from my custards should the flame be when torching?


On August 17, 2006 at 12:34 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: TOrch
KEWI wrote:
When I torched my creme brulees, they tasted burnt - how far from my custards should the flame be when torching?

The flame itself should be touching the sugar on the custard. What color does your sugar turn as you scorch it? If parts are turning black quickly, you may want to back the flame off a bit and more the torch around more quickly for an even burn.


On August 22, 2006 at 10:41 AM, guest (guest) said...
Subject: Creme Brulee Carcinogens
RE: Anonymous's Propane Concerns

The main carcinogen you'll get from using a blowtorch are the chemicals made when a carbohydrate combusts in depleted oxygen... ie. when the sugar is burnt. Anytime you have a BBQ and slightly brown/blacken your food you are creating carcinogens. However you shouldn't worry about this at all - the levels are much lower than the amount you're exposed to just by going into a city, and I've rather take my chances with some delicious meals!

As far as I can gather, most products in the USA come with ridiculous warnings because the manufacturers are so scared of getting sued. We don't have the same problem in the UK and my chef's torch only comes with warnings about keeping the fuel cool. The gas is the same stuff (almost) as the gas you use for gas ovens and even Bunsen burners in schools.

As for keeping the fuel cool, try monitoring the temperature in a shadowed corner of your kitchen (a cupboard away from the oven) for a couple of weeks. If it's under what the fuel container says, store it there :)


On August 22, 2006 at 03:50 PM, Chris T. (guest) said...
Excellent recipe! I ended up subbing in a vanilla pod instead of the extract, then let it steep for 15 minutes off-heat after the cream was done simmering. Then I proceeded with scraping the pod's contents into the cream and dealing with the egg-sugar mixture. This makes it less likely that you wind up with scrambled eggs. (I forgot to strain my mix before adding to ramekins but have not found any clumps of cooked protein so far...)

I had to cook for 1.5 hours instead of 1 hour, but I think I'm using deeper ramekins than Michael.

Also, I found that after I torched the sugar, three minutes in the fridge was sufficient for the top to be quite chilly. No need to chill for forty-five minutes.

Thanks so much for this recipe -- they taste great, and I'll be experimenting with different flavors next time!


On August 29, 2006 at 05:49 PM, xmonk (guest) said...
Subject: pinoy creme brulee
amazing! here in the philippines, we have a version of this called 'leche flan". adopted, i guess from the spaniards...

there's a benedictine monk in south part of the philippines who makes a good version of this creme brulee pinoy style.


On August 31, 2006 at 12:39 AM, Meeg (guest) said...
Subject: getting it right
I made creme brulee for the first time 2 weeks ago, the end result was that it tasted a bit eggy and the texture was firm, not wobbly like jelly. After reading the way that you cook it Iam wondering if the process of mixing the cream in a table spoon at a time is the difference between a firm or wobbly brulee??


On August 31, 2006 at 07:50 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: getting it right
Meeg wrote:
I made creme brulee for the first time 2 weeks ago, the end result was that it tasted a bit eggy and the texture was firm, not wobbly like jelly.

You may have cooked it longer which will result in a firmer custard. I assume the firm texture was underdesirable? Generally, it should only wobble when you pull it out of the oven, but after cooling and setting it should be firmer than Jell-O.


On September 26, 2006 at 03:35 AM, ginnylavender (guest) said...
Subject: safely storing propane in Texas
I live in Fort Worth. I use those little propane cylinders all the time in my little tabletop outdoor grill, and they were left outside all summer, covered by a black plastic bag with the grill. We had 42 days over 100 this summer, and nothing blew up. Of course, that's not saying yours wouldn't.


On October 02, 2006 at 06:47 PM, the_cook (guest) said...
Subject: very nice article
This really is a very nice article, i made this for my restaurant crew and the where really excited about it. congrats !!!

kind regards
creme brulee torch


On October 17, 2006 at 01:16 AM, Laurie (Brisbane Aust) (guest) said...
Subject: Creme Brulee Recipe
I have enjoyed reading the comments on the variations to Creme brulee recipes in your site. After trying a couple I have found that the one mentioned by Karak on Aug 6 located in the CD Cooking site to be easy, successful and good eating.

I used a small butane torch for the last brulee but would like to make a true salamander. Has anyone actually used this iron successfully?


On October 21, 2006 at 10:54 PM, a non mouse (guest) said...
Subject: new twist on top - creme la bastille
I watched a show where the sugar was heated in a pan and pored over a lightly buttered ramikin turned upside down in a checker board pattern. After it was cool the "shell" was removed from the ramikin and placed over the custard. The shell only touched the custard on the edges and formed a dome. Before eating the shell was broked by tapping it with a spoon and it fell and coated the custard in carmalized sugar shards.

Jail break!


On October 30, 2006 at 08:15 PM, Joe Krisch (guest) said...
Subject: A few notes
I didn't use the recipe above but I thought I would share what I learned when I made it.

1) To get the best color and thickness to the top I used a mixture of standard white processed sugar and turbinado. Alone I would get either a bland looking crust with uniform thickness or a nice looking crust of varying thickness. I found that brown sugar does not work well at all.

2) I used the Bernzomatic TS4000 MAPP torch and it tool around 20 seconds per ramekin. It was pretty sweet.

3) You can speed cooking time to ~20m by adding boiling water to the water bath. I used a cooking thermometer to monitor and brought the temp to 173F before removing from the oven.


On November 07, 2006 at 06:40 PM, wish i was a engineer (guest) said...
Subject: re:chocolate brulee
never tired a chocolate brulee. but excited to try a recipie.
I'm thinking maybe add a little of chocolate liqour instead of or with the vanilla. i was thinking a bit a cocoa powder too but it might make the color a little greyish brown and might not be appealing, so i was thinking maybe just set some light ganache ( not to thick ) in the bottom of the ramekin first, let set a bit, then add cremme mixture.. and bake in the water bath. then you can burn sugar as usual and drizzle some chocolate also on top of the sugar after all fancy like.. maybe a mix of white and dark.

i have tried a candied pinapple bottom, with a ginger creme brulle. very nice. garnish on top of burnt suger with thinly sliced candied ginger.


On November 12, 2006 at 09:37 PM, Yabba-Dabba (guest) said...
Subject: Custard-mustard dabbie-dabboo
The author surprisingly and rather ironically calls this a SIMPLE recipe. Ha-ha!
I can boil potatoes, eggs, make an omelet and some macaroni with cheese. Oh yeah, butter'n'bread also.
Wonder what I'll get if I try this (he-he-he, don't try this at home).


On December 09, 2006 at 01:08 AM, DarkAeons said...
He said it was simple, not that it wouldn't require some practice to get right :)

By the way, I tried it but I think the custard may have required a bit more cooking (one hour at 250°F, inside a pan filled with boiling water) because the texture was like heavy cream but a bit more solid than that.


On December 13, 2006 at 04:59 PM, Food addict (guest) said...
Subject: Why is it neccessary to heat the ingredients?
I've seen other recipes for creme brulee which are similiar, except that they simply mix the ingredients, pour into ramekins and then put into the over. Your recipe calls for heating the ingredients before putting into the ramekins.

Can you please tell me why your receipe calls for heating the ingredients? What happens if this step is omitted?

As an example of the alternative approach:
http://www.cremebrulee.com/creme.htm

Thank you in advance for explaining this to me.

Regards.


On December 24, 2006 at 09:38 PM, Auror (guest) said...
Subject: Serving of Cream Brulee
This is my first time making cream brulee and I'm just a confused about how it should be served. If I want to give them to friends do I have to give the ramekins together with the cream brulee? Is there no way to transfer it to another container as the middle is soft?


On December 25, 2006 at 02:13 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Serving of Cream Brulee
Auror wrote:
This is my first time making cream brulee and I'm just a confused about how it should be served. If I want to give them to friends do I have to give the ramekins together with the cream brulee? Is there no way to transfer it to another container as the middle is soft?

Creme brulees are served in their ramekins. When done properly, the middle is not soft, but the same texture as teh rest of the creme brulee - you take them out of the oven while the centers are still jiggly however.

Other custard desserts can be served outside of their ramekins (like a creme caramel), but generally creme brulee's cannot.


On January 10, 2007 at 11:17 PM, Grinch (guest) said...
Subject: Creme Brulee is top!
Great stuff!

Made these a few times now and always good. Nice and simple steps with a great end product.

http://www.1point21gigawatts.net/index.php?p=64

Even got me a blow torch just for the task.


On January 27, 2007 at 05:28 PM, head dishwasher (guest) said...
Subject: HELP!!
I am cooking for A dinner of 70......

I need to make 70 of these little guys for desert. I am Concerned about getting the timeline correct. They will be serVed as the fifth course, so the timing for service has to be fairly precise.

Any suggestions?


On February 02, 2007 at 08:46 PM, Mrs_Tat (guest) said...
Subject: Disposable Ramekins?
I want to make some creme brulee to bring to a Superbowl party. Is there such a thing as a disposable ramekin?

Back in the 70s at I worked at the Mass General Hospital (Boston, MA) and they used to sell baked custard in individual dixie cups. The problem with that is it would probably catch fire when you torch it. Unless I can rig some kind of sleeve for the top inside part of the cup for when I torch it. Sounds labor intensive though.

I know I can get individual foil type tart pans. Would that work? I have only made creme brulee in glass and ceramic before.


On February 14, 2007 at 12:05 AM, kiwicaterer (guest) said...
Subject: disposable ramekins
I don't think the dixie cups would manage to bake custards in a water bath without disintegrating. You may have to use aluminium cups - shouldn't be a problem torching them in that case either.

For a large number of servings, you are probably better off caramelising the sugar in a pan first and pouring onto the custards rather than torching each one - takes about 20-30 seconds per serving adding to your preparation time.


On February 23, 2007 at 04:17 AM, clwheeler (guest) said...
Subject: creme brulee techniques
I've been doing some research into different creme brulee recipes, and I've noticed that there seem to be two different kinds of recipes.
The vast majority of recipes (including the one here) require that the custard set while in the oven (center jiggly).
However, a few, including my french cookbook and this recipe (http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/recipe_cbrulee2.htm) state that the custard should be liquid when removed from heat, and would solidify in the refrigerator. (maybe this is a more traditional method?)

does anybody know why there might be the discrepancy between the two methods?


On March 23, 2007 at 06:37 PM, Jeff_Lin said...
To answer the scalding milk question, scalded milk helps melt the sugar and give everything a head start, in addition to accentuating whatever flavors you've decided to add. Another reason you use scalded milk is the same reason you use *boiling* water for the water bath; a "jump" is required to make sure the creme brulee cooks evenly and thoroughly.


On April 10, 2007 at 08:23 PM, jod_iblonde (guest) said...
Subject: Creme Brulee Torch
I recently purchased an inexpensive Creme Brulee Set, but can not get the torch to fill with the butane I purchased for it. Can someone offer some help here? Do I need a special brand or attachment to fill the torch?

Thanks for any advice ...


On April 11, 2007 at 01:32 AM, GaryProtein said...
When you buy the butane refills, there are usually plastic tips that fit onto the refill can that are supposed to fit into the receptical on the torch. They often don't fit well, requiring you to just push the metal stem into the torch without the adapter. It will drip some liquid butane, but it will fill. Just stay away from any flame or gas stove while you fill it. I have that problem with one of my butane torches. I think that you are better off with a Bernz-O-Matic than a little butane torch anyway. Keep the flame small and you will be fine. It does a more even job than the butane torch.


On April 25, 2007 at 03:01 AM, Geoff (guest) said...
Subject: re: creme brulee techniques
clwheeler wrote:
does anybody know why there might be the discrepancy between the two methods?

It seems they should achieve the same effect. Looking at the other recipe you linked to, it uses half as many egg yolks (and less sugar). My guess is that it aims for a lighter, creamier result, and possibly results in a less firm custard.
I'm tempted to query a couple local chefs for an answer.


Also, a personal favourite twist is lavender creme brule. I put the lavender in the cream for a couple days before using it and strain it out before baking, but when I had it in a restaurant the flowers were on top of the creme and it was quite good as well. Just be sure not to put too much in if you leave the flowers, as they do keep quite a strong flavour.


On April 29, 2007 at 04:31 AM, naia (guest) said...
Subject: disposable ramekin idea & vanilla storage question
Haven't tried this, but I would guess that you could use foil cupcake wrappers in a muffin pan. I would use the muffin pan for stability of the walls of the wrappers and to weigh the mixture down so that it stays in the hot water bath and doesn't possibly float - ramekins are usually heavy little suckers. Put the muffin pan in whatever baking pan you're using to pour the boiling water in and add the boiling water. **I'm not sure if a metal muffin pan would transfer heat in a way that would change the consistency of the creme brulee, as it seems ramekins are usually ceramic.**

If you store your vanilla beans in sugar to the point that the sugar is flavored by the vanilla bean, does the bean still have any potency left for other uses, i.e., flavoring the cream in this recipe? The same with storing beans in vodka. I'm assuming using a vodka-stored bean for this recipe would be bad, as you'd be adding alcohol to the recipe, which we're already avoiding by not using extract. But, would the vodka-stored bean have potency for other recipes that do not need to avoid alcohol in them? Could I flavor sugar with a bean, then use it for vodka flavoring, and then use it for something else?


On May 11, 2007 at 05:56 PM, Thor said...
Subject: Creme For Boozers
Actually, the alcohol flavor works better than you might think. On a recent road trip, I had creme brulee at Torches on the Hudson in Newburgh, NY. For dramatic impact, it was served with a small pool of alcohol, brandy I believe, on top. The dish was then ignited at the table with a Bic lighter and much ceremony. When the flame went out, there was a thin sugar crust coating the top, although without the traditional brown spots. A faint alcohol flavor remained. I enjoyed it thoroughly.


On May 22, 2007 at 10:09 AM, Mrs Barker (guest) said...
Subject: Creme Brulee
I am looking at this forum because I tasted the most devine creme brulee yesterday purchased at the Absynthe Bakery at the Circle on Cavill Surfers Paradise - quite unlike any I had tasted before, and I'm trying to find a recipe to duplicate it. The creme brulee was presented in a very small (I mean small enough to fit in the palm of a small woman's hand) plastic container - like the hard plastic ones you get takeaway food in, with the custard at the bottom as per usual. On top, the caramel was a sauce of the consistency of toffee, but not too stringy so that it was difficult to take a spoonful. On the top of that were tiny pieces of sweet fresh pineappe on 1/2 of the top and tiny pieces of fresh sweet strawberry on a quarter and a couple of blackberrys. It was $2 for this little hint of heaven YUM!!!!! I am craving it now, and trying to find a caramel recipe that will be something similar to what I ate. They have the best of any kind of bakery, patisserie food I have tried in the world - and pricey, but well worth it.


On May 23, 2007 at 11:12 PM, loves to cook (guest) said...
Subject: creme brulee sugars
I made this creme brulee about a year ago and I loved it..although I would sugest using real vanilla bean sticks..or real vanilla..but not vanilla extract as it tends to leave an alcohol taste..any how I was recently in a gourmet foods store and purchased flavored caramelizing sugars..it comes with raspberry sugar, praline sugar, butter rum sugar and cappucino flavored sugar..and I cant wait to try it instead of the regular sugar I tend to use...so the web site, if you want to request a catalog and try it for a different flavor is www.xcellint.com. HAPPY COOKING EVERY ONE!!! :)


On May 27, 2007 at 05:12 AM, jbdavis24 (guest) said...
Subject: creme brulee
I am still having a hard time telling when they are just right and done. Can anyone shed some more light?


On July 25, 2007 at 12:05 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: what is creme
Several people have mentioned putting different flavors or the vanilla in the creme for different period of time. At what point is this mixture creme?


On August 13, 2007 at 09:03 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: How NOT to finish the Broulet! (things to avoid)
First, a tip on making ultra smooth Creme Broulet: temper way more than you have to. It only takes a couple minutes longer, and you don't have to mess with a filter or mesh sieve.

SUPER SILKY METHOD:

Allow hot cream to cool for ~5 minutes. While tempering eggs, temper 1 Tbsp at a time until >1/2 of the hot cream has been added to the egg bowl while stirring. Continue until egg bowl nearly full: you'll know when the potential for a stirring mess is too high. Then re-temper the egg mixture back into the hot cream, by adding 1 Tbsp at a time of the egg mix to the hot cream in the pan. Then just pour the rest in, while stirring.

This results in a texture so smooth, it's like milk. Or cream. Or that reaaallly smooth luxury chocolate everyone loves.

THINGS TO AVOID!

Don't use vanilla extract. Just don't bother. Yes, spend the $12 for those two vanilla beans and then *GASP* cut 1/2 of one up and throw it in. It tastes great. Plus if you dice it, the black pieces add asthetic value.

Broulet:

Heating with a torch:
OK. It doesn't work, unless you do it just right. Just right means torching perpendicular to the sugar, so that you don't miss any. Alow the flame to barely touch the top. Because of my torch I had to hit it at an angle, and all it did was seriously burn a few top kernels sticking out. It also melts very fast.
NOTE: This does NOT work if the Creme Broulet is not done enough. If it's runny, you didn't use an ice bath/refrigerate it long enough. Adding sugar will and torching it will just end up with a weird burnt custard with melted sugar on top.

Broiler:
IFF (that's IF and ONLY IF) you have a broiler that cooks EVENLY will this work. Otherwise, like me, you'll get one burnt to a nice charcoal crisp, one hardly done, and one half-baked with a massive "bubble" in the sugar. Keep an eye on it, don't leave it in.

Pan Method:
Carmelizing the sugar before hand in a pan on top of the stove works GREAT! At least, it should if you are an expert at carmelizing sugar that is. STOP the heat BEFORE it reaches the color you want. It will continue to darken even after the fire is off. Wait for the deep golden color, and you'll end up with walnut black. You can dip the bottom of the pan in a water bath stop the heating if it's not a glass pan. Use potholders and immediately add the mixture to the top of the custard, if you wait it will be too thick to work with.
Do NOT add too much! A very thin coat IS better. If you add too much all you get is ROCK HARD candy on top that no one will want, or be able to eat without cracking out a few teeth fillings. The darker it gets, the more likely it is to be way too hard. This URL has some temperature guidelines for carmelized sugar: http://www.baking911.com/candy/chart.htm

The best & easiest method is the torch, if done right. It results in a nice thin sugar layer as well. I just can't get it right :P

Last but not least DON'T add sugar to every custard just yet! Even if you plan on torching the top! Remember, if you're not good at this, at least you can salvage your culinary skills and serve the custard by itself. It's the better half anyway.


On August 13, 2007 at 09:18 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Making sure the Creme Broulet is actually done!
Ok, here's how I did it:

Heat @ 250F for 1 hour. Check and confirm that yes, of course, it's not done. When you jiggle it, it probably looks like thick milk. But check it anyway to show yourself what undone Creme Broulet looks like. Now wait another 10 minutes, and yes, it's still not done. But, it's more done! So turn it up to 300-325 now, and wait another 10 minutes. It should be done. The top will be mostly firm, maybe with some jello-like jiggle in the middle. It doesn't really matter if the entire top is firm, because it will still taste good and the rest of it is silky smooth. If you're worried it's too done, take a chopstick or fork and stick it down the middle, then move it around a little in a conical fashion (to avoid making a larger hole). You should meet very little resistance below the top layer, since it should still be runny down there.

Make SURE to actually refrigerate it for 8 hours OR put it in an ice bath for 1 hour or until the ice is melted. Ice bath: large pan, add full layer of ice first, then add water. Put the ramekins in, and add water until it's ~1 cm below the top of the ramekin. This is what makes the custard firm but smooth. Otherwise it still looks like runny egg yolks, even after it's cooked. And all your kitchen helpers will wonder whether it's done or you decided to make vanilla egg-nog.

Summary: All told, I probably cooked 1:20h @ 250F, then 15min @ 325F. Keep in mind the water bath you're cooking them in will limit the immediately surrounding temperature to a maximum of 100C (~212F) because of evaporation, so all you're really doing is turning up the heat at the end to cook the top layer. That way you also make sure the bottom layer is "cooked" but still runny, to produce the silky texture.

Also see my post above on obtaining an ultra smooth silky custard.


On September 12, 2007 at 04:51 AM, an anonymous reader said...
May any other containers (anything cheaper/disposable) be used instead of the ramekins?
(I'm hoping to make a massive quantity of creme brulee for the residents of my dorm..... Suggestions?)

Thank you.


On September 13, 2007 at 02:24 AM, EngineeringProfessor said...
Subject: Gottah do it right
Anonymous wrote:
May any other containers (anything cheaper/disposable) be used instead of the ramekins?
(I'm hoping to make a massive quantity of creme brulee for the residents of my dorm..... Suggestions?)

Thank you.


A big part of Crème Brûlée (that sets it apart from runny custard) is the crisp melted sugar cover shell. The ideal CB "breaks" when you dive into it with a spoon and the soft custard clings to the shell. The very best CB dishes are large, larger than the classic ramekin, and flat because, ideally, you want that crunch with every bite.

For a large group I would say make it in a cookie pan with high sides. Big, yet shallow. Everyone would then get that crispy bite. The difficulty would lie with the water bath, but engineers have an uncanny way of solving those sorts of issues, no?


On September 17, 2007 at 03:25 AM, Ananymous (guest) said...
Subject: A different twist
Here is an interesting twist that really worked well. Add a few tablespoons of single malt. I chose a Highland Park (Stonehenge Box), bold, malty, without smoke. WOW!! I never knew vanilla could taste so good. This is very dangerous as the whole thing can disapear in short order. It is, if possible, a step up but do not add too much, no one should know there is scotch in the mix.

Try it first, just add some to regular creme brulee and stir. Yeah you lose the crunchy top but such is the price of science.

BTW I do not have ramekins so I use a glass pie dish and make the crust under the broiler on foil in a second dish. I can place it on 30 minutes prior to serving and no one knows or just dish it up and crush the crust on the top for the pragmatists out there.
S.A.


On October 04, 2007 at 07:42 AM, Du Sundarvar Freohr (guest) said...
Subject: One large batch
I was wondering if it were possible to cook one large batch in say, a casserole dish...

If it is possible how would you manage to cook it in the water????


On October 05, 2007 at 05:12 AM, SoundGuy (guest) said...
Subject: Video
I've made creme brulee with this recipe. Here's a video :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2jfl4709gw


On October 11, 2007 at 05:04 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: chocolate creme brulee
Hi I have made chocolate creme brulee and it was delightful
you just cook the cream and add 1 pkg of semi-sweet chocolate chips and cook until melted then add other ingredients as directed.


On October 13, 2007 at 07:21 PM, MissRB (guest) said...
Subject: Creme Brulee
This is a very easy recipe to follow. Creme Brulee always seemed challenging to me, but the photos make it so easy. I love this site


On October 20, 2007 at 04:45 AM, Bouldermike (guest) said...
Subject: Bailey Irish Creme Brulee
While in Ireland recently I had a creme brulee made with Bailey's Irish Creme. Lovely combination, but I did not pay close enough attention to how it was put together. My impression is that the custard was made as usual, then topped with some (1 tsp?) Bailey's Irish Creme Liqueur, then the sugar was added and carmelized. I wonder if that is possible, or would the sugar dissolve in the liqueur? Has anyone tried something like this or am I going to have to do the experiment?


On November 14, 2007 at 05:51 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: creme brule
Aftr I made creme brule for the first time, it seemed perfect. the texture of the custard was fine and the sugar caramelized perfectly witht he torch. but surprisingly, when i tasted it, it tasted very strange, kind of hot, like buring my throat. the ingredients I used were perfectly fine, and these included cream, egg yolks, vanilla sugar and vanilla extract. I just cannot understand what went wrong. Does anyone have a clue?


On November 14, 2007 at 11:50 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: creme brule
Anonymous wrote:
but surprisingly, when i tasted it, it tasted very strange, kind of hot, like buring my throat. the ingredients I used were perfectly fine, and these included cream, egg yolks, vanilla sugar and vanilla extract. I just cannot understand what went wrong. Does anyone have a clue?

Hot as in spicy hot?


On November 15, 2007 at 04:01 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: creme brule-hot
not hot as in spicy but hot as in burning...as in i felt like fire would come out of my mouth


On November 15, 2007 at 05:41 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: creme brule-hot
Anonymous wrote:
not hot as in spicy but hot as in burning...as in i felt like fire would come out of my mouth

I can't help but think we're not communicating correctly here. I'm asking if it's temperature or spiciness. It's not clear to me if you are using hot and burning to represent temperature or a sensation. Both should be impossible with creme brulee - if it's too hot (temperature), refrigerate it for an hour after using the torch. If it's too hot (spiciness), check your ingredients (maybe buy new ones) - maybe something went bad - although I can't imagine how cream, eggs, and sugar could be spicy. Hmmm... vanilla sugar. Taste that on it's own - maybe it's vanilla chili sugar (vanilla and chili powder is a combination that you could find in Central and South American cuisine).


On November 15, 2007 at 08:09 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: hot creme brule
i mean as in sensation. like for instance the kind of sese one might get from alcohol. it os very strange. perhaps its the butane torch? ive tried the vanilla sugar..it tastes just fine. i even tried the custard befor putting it in the oven and it tastes fine. i just cannot understand. ive tried it twice and it tastes exactly the same. it burns the back of my throat. it kind of leaves an after taste.


On November 15, 2007 at 09:45 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: hot creme brule
Anonymous wrote:
i mean as in sensation. like for instance the kind of sese one might get from alcohol. it os very strange. perhaps its the butane torch? ive tried the vanilla sugar..it tastes just fine. i even tried the custard befor putting it in the oven and it tastes fine. i just cannot understand. ive tried it twice and it tastes exactly the same. it burns the back of my throat. it kind of leaves an after taste.

Are you burning the vanilla sugar? Have you tried regular sugar? Maybe the vanilla when burnt causes irritation of the tissue in your throat? (I haven't heard of this before, but I also don't know about anyone taking at torch to vanilla)

I also not recommending continuing to eat/taste the food causing the irritation. You might be allergic to something or some by product is being created during the torching or the torch may be faulty, who knows.


On November 18, 2007 at 06:15 PM, guest_alex (guest) said...
Subject: burning sensation...
Please check your torch. Anyone made to drink carbon tea by their great granmama recognizes the description. Coal oil tea, carbon tea was used pre-1900 medicinally.

Creme brulee...marvelous. Excellent recipe & comments. My husband of many years (deceased) was an engineer & I drove him crazy because I did not follow recipes. I was however blessed with very decerning taste buds, not just for flavor but for texture differences. I make creme brulee that everyone loves. Some even offer to pay for me to make it for them. I try to gift them what they are craving for holidays. The recipe I seem to have matched comes from Victor's in San Francisco. My husband took delight in my guessing ingredients at the lovely restauarants we sampled. Victor's closely matches this recipe. I was hoping for one of the lovely demitasses that had survived the 1906 fire. Alas! one of the few irreplaceable items they coveted. The other thing it took me a few years to discover was what made their cream so heavy, smooth and body temperature sensitive. They admitted it had to do with the cream but that was a far as the pastry chefwould go. I learned that in the U.S. we have no heavy cream that matches the amount of butter fat in France (probably Europe). I craft this heavier creame by adding 1 stick of butter to one quart of heavy cream when heating the cream (one of the reasons this recipe is a very good one). I incorporate the add'l fat when making whipped cream dishes for the holidays as well (just whip after it has chilled as you normally would).

Victors served the creme brulee at Sunday brunch & if you were lucky enough to get one of the lovely demitasse cups they were just over half filled (vanilla bean of course), silver dollar of burnt sugar perfectly covering the top, wonderfully chilled sitting on a bed of crushed ice. The magic happened when your mouth closed around the spoon of custard. "Breaking the crust" was lovely but the sensation of the custard & sugar melting "into' your mouth immediately, releasing those complimentary flavour of ingredients is worth that added stick of butter and effort of perfecting the addition to the above recipe. The downside to the demitasse is you always crave more.

One add'l suggestion: Lavender, lovely...handle w/care as its taste varies w/the steeping...but if you would like to try a refreshing "complex" palatte clensing dessert, after straining for the lavender, add finely crushed rosemary leaves to the custard (i'm sorry i measure by taste but the experiment is worthwhile). Garnish w/a couple of mint leaves and plumped berry (i prefer blackberries). Happy holidays.


On November 19, 2007 at 09:18 PM, pat (guest) said...
Subject: creme brulee
When I torch (and I'm usung a Burnz-a-matic?), I wind up with little black spots on the surface- burn spots. For some reason I'm burning it instead of carmelizing it. Is the flame too high or am I not having the flame the right distance from the sugar? It tastes awful- like burned sugar. Can you help me?


On November 20, 2007 at 06:10 PM, GUESTRick (guest) said...
Subject: Mini Creme Brulee cooking times?
Working in television production, I frequent get to enjoy the desserts tables from different caters.....Many serve little mini puddings , and a number have [u:f69c4838c8]MINI Creme Brulee's[/u:f69c4838c8] served in little mini foil cups.
I have found mini foil cups....no problem
, ( not foil cup cake holders) and NEED TO KNOW ...how long should I cook these mini cups for ...and do I cook them at the same temperature. I assume the recipe stays the same.

Can anyone help? with specifics....not the obvious like just keep checking them while cooking .......

thanks


On November 23, 2007 at 02:09 AM, julianop said...
Subject: avoiding vanilla flavored scrambled eggs ...
I think the most dangerous part of making CB (it's so famous now it only needs a two letter acronym!) is getting the first cup of hot cream into the eggs.
I manage to avoid this potential tragedy by using a half cup size measuring cup to run the hot cream down the side of the larger bowl with the eggs & sugar mix while I stir like a banshee with a wire whisk. With practice I have even managed to get the bowl to rotate gently as I stir, so the side of the mixing bowl doesn't warm too much under the cream.
It may be a totally pointless exercise, but it looks fun and slightly risk ("oh what a nice color for the walls!"), and I humor myself into thinking I actually have some culinary skill.
The other thing I do is to keep the bain marie water level above the level of the CB mix.
I don't really know if either of those techniques are effective, as I'm afraid to not do them for fear of losing a batch, so comments are welcome.


On December 07, 2007 at 06:08 PM, Darla (guest) said...
I can't wait to try this. I have my torch and I'm ready to go! My favorite restaurants add a few raspberries to the top immediately before serving.


On December 14, 2007 at 09:41 PM, Scripty (guest) said...
Subject: Crusty on Top
When I cooked my creme brulee, a golden crust formed on top and when I took them out of the oven, the custard sank and the crust cracked making it difficult, I would think, to put sugar on top and broil it. [I just took them out of the oven]. Why did they do this?


On December 14, 2007 at 10:09 PM, Dilbert said...
Scripty -

"over cooking" custard dishes pi's to omegas - is the usual cause for cracking.

it's a high wire act -
undercooked = gooey centers
overcooked = cracks

did you do these in a water bath?
the temperature inertia of a water bath should give you a bit more leeway (clock time) in checking / pulling from oven.


On December 14, 2007 at 10:14 PM, Scripty (guest) said...
Subject: re: Crusty on Top
Yes I used the tray of water - half way up the custard cups.

Also the insides seem very runny. Sigh. Can I put them back in even though they have cooled quite a bit?


On December 15, 2007 at 01:06 PM, Dilbert said...
custards being an egg dish, I wouldn't recycle them.

if they are still too loose in the middles, but parts(?) have cracked, and you used a water bath, I'm suspecting the oven temp was too high and would recommend you use a separate thermometer to double check.

the theory behind the water bath is to allow then entire mass to all come up to temperature in an even way.


On December 20, 2007 at 07:14 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: no torch...no problem
Most ovens have a broiler, use that if you don't have a torch. It's best to place the creme brulee closest to the flame/ high-heat-distribution-unit after having put the sugar on top--just make sure not to burn the sugar. Keep in mind that once sugar boils, it'll harden when cooled. If you want the look of the torch, you need to pay very close attention to burning the sugar otherwise you can ruin the creme. B)


On December 21, 2007 at 06:57 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Chocolate anyone?
I would love to make a silky chocolate CB. Any ideas? A local restaurant serves them and they are heavenly!!


On December 23, 2007 at 05:17 PM, Pling (guest) said...
Subject: Creme brulee without milk
Us engeneers with asperger (See www.npif.no/forskning)
need to avoid milk. It is great with coconut cream instead, although I suppose not all the incredibly deicious-sounding taste extras are suitable to the coconut cream!
Earl grey tea and coconut? Must try!


On December 24, 2007 at 01:46 PM, EB (guest) said...
Subject: CREME BRULEE
I MADE CREME BRULEE LAST EVENING FOR TONIGHT. I THOUGHT IF I BROILED THE SUGAR IT WOULD STAY IN THE REFRIGERATOR OVERNIGHT...OBVIOUSLY IT DID NOT. CAN I RE-SUGAR AND BROIL THE TOPS THIS EVENING TO SAVE THE BRULEE OR IS IT TRASH???


On December 28, 2007 at 07:29 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: CREME BRULEE
EB wrote:
I MADE CREME BRULEE LAST EVENING FOR TONIGHT. I THOUGHT IF I BROILED THE SUGAR IT WOULD STAY IN THE REFRIGERATOR OVERNIGHT...OBVIOUSLY IT DID NOT. CAN I RE-SUGAR AND BROIL THE TOPS THIS EVENING TO SAVE THE BRULEE OR IS IT TRASH???

Soak up the liquid with a paper towel, top again with sugar, and broil/burn the sugar. The sugar crust will only stay for a couple hours if you're lucky.


On December 30, 2007 at 08:57 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Perfect!
This recipe is divine! I've used it twice and the most recent batch is currently baking in the oven...although the final dish takes 8-10 hours before ready to be served, the recipe is easy and fast. Just make sure you have time to spare!


On January 05, 2008 at 03:49 PM, Di (guest) said...
Subject: I'm old fashion
First, I am creme brulee's biggest fan. I choose where I eat around creme brulee (cb). I am also hooked on the good old fashioned cb...nothing but the basic ingredients. However, I have been urged to try many different variations (not by choice but what was available-I'll take what I can get) and I recently had chocolate cb on a cruise ship & it wasn't bad but it made it light brown & it didn't look like cb. I know I'm stubborn but I make it a rule not to mess with perfection....never change was isn't broken! If you want to add chocolate, I would suggest white choc. And like someone said earlier, I too prefer it warm (and I'm from the US). In fact, when my friends & I go out, we request it to be seved warm. HEAVEN!!! PS: You can find all the vanillia beans you could ever want on ebay & pretty cheap too..check it out. You can buy 1 or 10. Long live creme brulee!


On January 06, 2008 at 06:08 AM, edjusted said...
I just followed this recipe with great initial success. When adding the hot cream to the yolk mix, I didn't want to make scrambled eggs so I spooned the cream in a little a time while mixing, mixing, mixing. The mixture was so smooth, I didn't have to strain it (well, I didn't have a strainer anyway). My oven's been broken so I used a toaster oven. I checked on it at 45 mins, and the custard was already firm (no jiggling anywhere) so I took it out in a hurry and immediately put it in the fridge. My wife was overeager so we decided to torch one and try it just for fun. The custard was a tiny bit firmer than jello, but it was good warm! Can't wait to try it again tomorrow!


On January 15, 2008 at 06:46 AM, Funky (guest) said...
Subject: iron to carmelize
I used a new traditional French CB iron to carmelize the sugar on top and it tastes like burnt iron! What can I do?


On January 21, 2008 at 05:53 PM, BETTYR8115@MSN.COM (guest) said...
Subject: CARMALIZED SUGAR FOR CREAM BURLEE
Can you buy carmalized sugar like the package that comes with the mix?


On February 06, 2008 at 06:40 PM, Okko (guest) said...
Subject: Nice basic recipe, great pics
I'm working on some crème brûlée recipes too - will give this basic one a whirl soon! Such a science!


On February 13, 2008 at 06:58 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Re: Torching the sugar. Try a smaller amount of sugar, torch, and repeat. This should give you a thicker, crackley, and more carmelized top.


On March 03, 2008 at 10:24 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: extra idea!
I noticed this recipe cooks them at 250 for an hour... i usually cook mine at 325 for about 35 min and they turn out perfect. THey get a slight brown color on the top of them and that is how i know they are done!


On March 17, 2008 at 05:05 AM, dorkydi (guest) said...
Subject: Extra Eggs?
My usual creme brulee recipe (I use Alton Brown's, halved) has the same amounts of all the ingredients listed in this recipe except for the egg yolks. For the same amount of cream and sugar, I use half the number of yolks (that is, four).

Just to see what happened, I used one extra egg yolk in my usual recipe tonight and the custard came out (predictably) harder, more like the consistency of ice cream than the custard I've made before. I can't imagine what it would be like with eight egg yolks like the recipe calls for, but I glean from the comments that people have had success with this version. Is this just a matter of personal taste?


On March 29, 2008 at 11:10 AM, gd44 (guest) said...
Subject: Brilliant recipe!!!
I made these following the recipe to the letter but using real vanilla instead of extract, and they were absolutely fantastic. I used nice organic free range eggs too, and no word of a lie, they were the best creme brulees I've ever tasted in my life!!


On May 06, 2008 at 12:48 AM, guest2 (guest) said...
Subject: Lavendar Creme Brullee
Just had some at a restaurant and it was delicious. If you want to experiment, I'd suggest you try it. The hint of lavendar added something special and quite unique.


On July 21, 2008 at 05:27 PM, shadyg said...
Re: dorkydi

Yes, the traditional creme brulee recipe uses roughly half of the egg yolk specified in this one. I use the one listed in "The Professional Chef", which -- while specifying by weight -- calls for 4 yolks per pint of cream. The window for getting the custard to set perfectly is narrower, but the end result is much more delicate.


On October 28, 2008 at 04:39 AM, pamb166 (guest) said...
Subject: carmelizing the sugar on top
Can you use one of the butane hand held charcoal or candle lighter things to brown the sugar on top?[


On October 28, 2008 at 05:06 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: carmelizing the sugar on top
pamb166 wrote:
Can you use one of the butane hand held charcoal or candle lighter things to brown the sugar on top?

I think that that flame is too small - it would be like trying to caramelize the custard top with a box of matches...


On November 05, 2008 at 07:25 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: creme brulee
I MAKE MY CREME BRULEE IN A KETTLE AND 72 AT A TIME. ALSO I WHIP MY EGG YOLK AND SUGAR IN MIXER UNTIL FLUFFY THEN ADD TO BOILING CREAM AND VANILLA BEAN. POUR INTO CREME BRULEE DISHES AND CHILL. THE TASTE IS GREAT. THE ONLY PROBLEM I HAVE FOUND IS THAT MY CUSTARD IS A LITTLE TO THICK. IS THERE A WAY TO MAKE IT MORE CREAMY? DOES ANY ONE ELSE DO IT THIS WAY THAT COULD GIVE ME ADVISE.


On November 12, 2008 at 12:20 AM, annonymous (guest) said...
Subject: Creme Brulee on a pastry? How did they do that?
I recently had the best creme brulee I have ever tasted at Spago in Cesar's Palace in Las Vegas. The CB was not served in a ramican however, it was served on top of a pastry puff, with fresh fruit on top. There was nothing holding the CB together. It was not running and held it's shape. I am just wondering how on earth they were able to remove the CB from the ramican and place it on top of a pastry. It really was to die for. Any ideas on how this may have been done without ruining the consistency of the custard?


On November 12, 2008 at 06:18 PM, Dilbert said...
custard, by definition, is not a "runny" dish.

so, make it in a ramekin, chill, run a knife around the circumference and flip it out onto the pastry.

nadda problem . . .


On November 12, 2008 at 11:14 PM, Michael Chu said...
Dilbert wrote:
custard, by definition, is not a "runny" dish.

so, make it in a ramekin, chill, run a knife around the circumference and flip it out onto the pastry.

Only thing I would add to that is possibly to line the bottom of the ramekin with a sheet of parchment paper that is cut into a circle to help unmold the custard when you flip it over after running the knife along the edge.


On November 19, 2008 at 03:10 AM, annonymous (guest) said...
Subject: refrigerator life
Does anyone know about how long you can keep the custards in the refrigerator before they are no longer good anymore?


On November 25, 2008 at 02:34 PM, guest (guest) said...
Subject: storage after baking, before caramelizing
How long can one refrigerate the baked CB before caramelizing and serving? If they were covered well, would a couple of days be too long?


On November 25, 2008 at 06:05 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: storage after baking, before caramelizing
guest wrote:
How long can one refrigerate the baked CB before caramelizing and serving? If they were covered well, would a couple of days be too long?

I've held them three or four days without an issue. Prior to applying the sugar and caramelizing, just use a paper towel to absorb any liquid that may have collected at the top while in the fridge.


On November 27, 2008 at 03:47 PM, awarner (guest) said...
Subject: re: Creme Brulee
Thanks so much for the simple step-by-step instructions with pictures! Makes cooking fancy stuff so easy! Happy Thanksgiving!


On December 19, 2008 at 05:06 PM, Tina (guest) said...
I love this recipe, it makes a great, wonderfully rich custard. I'm one of those rare people, it seems, who dislikes the sugar crust so I never do it. I'm also lacking in ramekins. I actually make one big custard in a large ceramic bowl, still doing the water bath, it takes about an hour and a half. Three spoon fulls is enough for a serving so it I've got days and days worth of desserts for the evening. :)

I highly recommend this recipe, it's simple and delicious.


On December 23, 2008 at 05:42 AM, Howard said...
Why does the cream need to simmer first?

Also, I exploded the top edge of a custard cup. Might be a good idea to wear glasses while making these.


On January 05, 2009 at 01:43 AM, Majesty said...
Subject: Warm crème brûlée
Just like innaphog I like my crème brûlée warm-ish. The best variation on a crème brûlée I had was last year in Dublin, where they served a 'rhubarb brûlée'. This was served in a high ramekin, where the bottom was filled with rhubarb, and on top crème brûlée. They served it warm, just like I like it. I don't know how to do that though. Is it just a matter of placing the crème in an oven again, to heat it up. Or even use a microwave? But no matter how it technically works, rhubarb and crème brûlée is a fantastic combination, because rhubarb has a lot of acid, and the cream has a hell of a lot of sugar, it is the perfect combination.
Michael has warned for this, and my experience with making the crème also shows this, is that everyone has different circumstances with baking. My sister gave me a recipe once but she uses low ramekins and has a cool, big oven, where I have only high ramekins and a cheap little electric oven. The crèmes turned out to be too soft inside. I don't know anymore what I changed but to me this whole experimenting is the whole fun of it all.
To remarks about vanilla: here in Europe a lot of recipes advise to let a vanilla bean (cut it open first, so the little seeds can swim out) boil with the heated cream, instead of adding vanilla-extract.


On March 18, 2009 at 08:38 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I disagree with your last step - refrigerate again. I'm glad you left it off of your diagrammed recipe. I like to caramelize the sugar right at the table & hand over to my guests. Warm on top, cold on bottom. Crunchy top, creamy bottom. LOVELY!


On March 19, 2009 at 06:47 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Use amaretto as well as/or vanilla


On April 23, 2009 at 07:40 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Friend of mine sent me this recipe and I never knew that Creme Brulee was this easy. I love this recipe! And I agree with some people to not refrigerate again. Nothing's better than the warm top and cold bottom, YUM!


On April 30, 2009 at 01:05 AM, tk121 (guest) said...
Subject: For a bit more vanilla flavor...
A great addition to this recipe is to add real vanilla bean into the custard just before pouring it into the ramikans.

You can buy whole vanilla bean at most regular stores near the other spices, and it will look like a chile pepper.

What you want to do is cut it in half along it's length over the custard, and scrape the inside of the bean causing the vanilla seeds in the center to go into the custard. I typically let it sit for a little bit to allow the custard mixture to soak up some of the vanilla flavor before cooking in the oven.

This will add a distinctive "vanilla" look to the custard with all the little seeds in it once it's cooked, and does wonders to the taste! Very easy addition to the recipe, albeit a bit on the expensive side - 2 whole vanilla beans usually cost about 5 bucks.


On May 02, 2009 at 07:36 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: no baking pan and large oven around
im an asian and oven is quite rare here,we have a microwave oven though...can i cook the creme brulee custard in a steamer? :unsure:


On May 02, 2009 at 02:53 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: no baking pan and large oven around
Anonymous wrote:
im an asian and oven is quite rare here,we have a microwave oven though...can i cook the creme brulee custard in a steamer?

I haven't tried it yet, but you should be able to steam the custard. The only thing to watch out for is that the steam temperature doesn't get too high (you'll want to just simmer the water once it starts giving off steam - don't set it to a rolling boil) to keep the custard from curdling. Also, try to keep water that has condensated on the lid from dripping back onto the custards. Cook until the centers just jiggle slightly, then cool.


On May 06, 2009 at 07:13 AM, Fely Grace (guest) said...
Subject: concerning with the steamer
so you mean that on working with a steamer i should consider these things:be careful in the temperature and make sure that no condensated water drips from the lid into the custard...thanks...can i cover the ramekins with foil then?


On May 07, 2009 at 07:02 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: liquor instead of a torch
i have no torch around and i have read that you can add a little liquor to the sugar and ignite it, this would caramelize the sugar...is this a clever option especially when you have no torch at home? i wonder if the burning process would affect the custards consistency...help anyone!!!i really want to make creme brulee...never tried making it my whole life..


On August 12, 2009 at 10:17 PM, glow (guest) said...
Subject: creme brulee
After being refrigerated to cool, my creme brulee developed a top layer that tastes like hardened butter; not a desirable addition. When removed, the rest of the custard was perfect. How can I avoid this from forming?
Also, if the ramekins are glass, and the custard has been chilled, won't they break when put under a broiler or when they are torched to get the sugar crackle on top?


On August 13, 2009 at 04:42 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: creme brulee
glow wrote:
After being refrigerated to cool, my creme brulee developed a top layer that tastes like hardened butter; not a desirable addition. When removed, the rest of the custard was perfect. How can I avoid this from forming?

Cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and make sure the plastic goes down onto the surface. That will help.

glow wrote:
Also, if the ramekins are glass, and the custard has been chilled, won't they break when put under a broiler or when they are torched to get the sugar crackle on top?

I wouldn't put them under the broiler. Use a torch and keep moving - if you do it with constant motion, the glass should hold.


On August 31, 2009 at 11:34 PM, tournesol600 (guest) said...
Subject: propane torch
I have also discovered that the standard Bernzomatic torch will not work
for long in the inverted position. Today I solved the problem by adding a
Mr. Heater 5' propane hose assembly (part #F273710)which I purchased from Tractor Supply for $13.00. This connects to the little tank and then to the torch
body. Tested and the result was superb. Advantage over broiler is 10
seconds to do the sugar with no extreme softening of the custard. For me,
the broiler almost destroys the custard. Torch $16.00, Hose $13.00 and
you have a rig a chef would love at the same cost as the Mickey Mouse
refillable creme brulee torches.
Bon appetite, Tom


On September 21, 2009 at 02:40 AM, djb6 (guest) said...
Subject: Delicious
This was great! First time making creme brulee and it was awesome and easy. I really liked the simplicity of the directions. Thanks!


On September 24, 2009 at 12:28 PM, Guest (guest) said...
Subject: Kitchen Rookie
I don't have much experience in the kitchen, but was amazed at how well the Creme Brulee came out. So were my guests. I did have some problem carmelizing the turbinado sugar. It burned much more quickly than it melted. I switched to approximatey 3:1 mix of white sugar/turbinado and it melted and browned nicely. Thanks for the recipe!


On February 10, 2010 at 02:59 AM, Zandyman (guest) said...
Subject: In defense of vanilla extract (and addition of flavors)
I've made this both ways, with vanilla bean and with vanilla extract...

if you use GOOD vanilla extract, the difference is hardly noticeable, if you use cheap vanilla extract, you can absolutely tell the difference.

Good vanilla extract is expensive, but it's worth it. Check your gourmet stores or cooking stores.

A restaurant near me has several flavors of creme brulee, most made with the addition of liqueurs, which seem to work better than non-liqueur flavorings, anything non-alcoholic I've added has ended up changing the end consistency. I'm assuming most of the alcohol bakes out in the course of an hour in the oven, but still might consider who is going to be eating it before you add booze.

So far I've tried (1/4 of booze is MORE than enough, many of these are strong flavors)

Chambord -- this is excellent!
Godiva Chocolate Liqueur -- this is pretty good, but I gotta give credit to Paula Deen for this one, wasn't me.
Amaretto -- this almond competed strangely with the vanilla, I think if I try this one again, I'll leave out the vanilla.
Frangelico - Hazelnut not my favorite flavor and the same issue with the amaretto, vanilla nut is a strange combination to me.
Homemade Raspberry cordial -- this was awesome too, but I don't want to start posting recipes in someone else's forum.

-Z


On February 24, 2010 at 04:18 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Confused.
Why is it so horrible if water gets into the ramekins? What does it ruin?


On February 25, 2010 at 04:02 AM, Nick74 (guest) said...
Subject: just some thoughts...
I love this site. I am an engineer's son, and a chef by trade. It's all here under one roof, so to speak. Love it.
Anyway, some thoughts about creme brulee:

Flavorings are great, but my favorites are the ones that you have to chase around your palate and might not figure out. Try steeping some chai tea in the hot mix. Just enough to give it the aroma that will flirt with the vanilla. Calvados might be good, too, but I haven't tried it. Traditional CB has no vanilla, no sugar. Just cream and eggs. It derives it's sweetness from the coating.

Not all eggs are created equal. Make sure that they are fresh. A fresh egg will have a nice, tall yolk. Almost hemispherical in shape. Older eggs have flatter yolks, disc shaped and past their prime for custards.

For me, the magic of creme brulee is all the contrasts. Creamy and crunchy, hot and cold, the mouth feel of the custard and the sharp aroma of the carmelized sugar all at once. Yum.

If your sugar has much black about it it is burnt, not carmelized. Slow down your heat or keep the torch moving faster. Or both. Ace Hardware used to sell a small torch, self igniting and at a right angle to the top of the canister. You don't have to worry about flipping all that propane upside down and it's not big enough to nuke dessert on the first pass.

Custards are fickle. However, all mine tasted great no matter how bad I messed up. Have fun with them. Try again. Mistakes are very easy to find homes for.


On February 25, 2010 at 04:07 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Re: Confused.
Anonymous wrote:
Why is it so horrible if water gets into the ramekins? What does it ruin?

If you get a lot in it can ruin the texture and flavor of the custard. Also, too much water makes the sugar not caramelize correctly. If it's only a little, it can mess up the appearance of the custard. If it's a tiny bit it might not matter at all.


On February 25, 2010 at 04:30 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Re: liquor instead of a torch
Anonymous wrote:
i have no torch around and i have read that you can add a little liquor to the sugar and ignite it, this would caramelize the sugar...is this a clever option especially when you have no torch at home? i wonder if the burning process would affect the custards consistency...help anyone!!!i really want to make creme brulee...never tried making it my whole life..

I would respectfully suggest borrowing a torch, or perhaps using a broiler.


On March 06, 2010 at 08:13 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: vanilla pods
One can find vanilla pods at a good price at Penzey's Spices out of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.
www.penzeys.com


On March 22, 2010 at 11:34 AM, Monica (guest) said...
Tried this recipe for the first time last night.
My husband insisted on adding finely crushed amaretti (cherry flavoured crunchy biscuits) to the mix, but other than that we followed the recipe exactly.
Result is very nice, the bigger bits of amaretti floated to the top during the baking, making brownish top and the rest smooth, taste is great too.
Dunno abt others' problem with the baking time tho, since we baked for an hour & 120°C and the brulées came out firm, slightly too firm - not jiggly, even.
Wondering why's that?
Also, they are nicely creamy and smooth to taste, but the look is not silky, neither anything like curdled cream or runny egg, just...hmm...not silky like tofu...; is this how it's supposed to be like?


On March 22, 2010 at 03:25 PM, Michael Chu said...
Monica wrote:
Dunno abt others' problem with the baking time tho, since we baked for an hour & 120°C and the brulées came out firm, slightly too firm - not jiggly, even.
Wondering why's that?

Unfortunately, oven temperatures vary quite a bit from oven to oven. It sounds like your oven might be running a little hotter than expected. The water bath should have helped regulate the temperature a little, but you may want to check on your cremes a little earlier to see if they have reached the desired doneness (just jiggling).

One thing to keep in mind with all baking recipes - the time is just a guide. On your first attempt at any baking recipe, you should check the time a little earlier and at regular intervals to see when yours is done. Once you have an idea of how long it takes to bake in your particular environment, make a note and the next time you can check closer to the finished temperature. Remember, the timing you got when you checked often is going to be a little different (longer) than the timing when you do not check as often the next time around (because every time the oven door is opened, some heat is lost).


On March 24, 2010 at 09:55 PM, charles (guest) said...
Subject: vanilla
Soaking the vanilla beans (scraped, of course) in the cream for a couple of days enhances the vanilla flavor.

Adding the hot to the cold eggs is called tempering - probably someone already said that.


On March 27, 2010 at 04:46 AM, an anonymous reader said...
On July 21, 2008 at 05:27 PM, shadyg said...
Re: dorkydi

Yes, the traditional creme brulee recipe uses roughly half of the egg yolk specified in this one. I use the one listed in "The Professional Chef", which -- while specifying by weight -- calls for 4 yolks per pint of cream. The window for getting the custard to set perfectly is narrower, but the end result is much more delicate.

If the Professional Chef recipe you like specifies 4 yolks per pint of cream, why do you say to use 8 yolks for a pint? Have you forgotten there are 2 cups in a pint? I just made Alton Brown's recipe that is 6 yolks per quart (3 yolks per pint) and it's like eating a vanilla cloud. Your recipe must be much thicker using more than twice as many yolks.


On May 05, 2010 at 02:46 AM, Nicole (guest) said...
Subject: Runny Creme Brulee
Anyone have any ideas why my creme brulee might be runny besides starting out with cold water for the water bath? I have made creme brulee successfully many times in an electric oven. Once I got a new oven that is gas, my creme brulees are runny. They don't seem to solidify at all. Could the gas oven be my problem?


On May 05, 2010 at 01:27 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Runny Creme Brulee
Nicole wrote:
Anyone have any ideas why my creme brulee might be runny besides starting out with cold water for the water bath? I have made creme brulee successfully many times in an electric oven. Once I got a new oven that is gas, my creme brulees are runny. They don't seem to solidify at all. Could the gas oven be my problem?

Starting with cold water will drastically increase the cooking time required for your custards to solidify. The gas oven shouldn't make a difference unless the oven is running cooler than it should be (an independent oven thermometer could help to determine that). How much longer did you cook the creme brulee before you determined it wasn't going to solidify?


On May 28, 2010 at 12:22 PM, Lauren @ Delicateflavors said...
Subject: Mango Creme Brulee?
I wonder if I can process mango in a food processor and make Mango Creme Brulee. Would it ruin the texture?


On June 13, 2010 at 06:19 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Pureed mango should be fine going into it, maybe use a bit less sugar, but it will change the texture a bit. Unless you only used mango juice, the mango pulp is going to change it a bit. I would also cook it slightly longer.


On August 04, 2010 at 03:01 PM, guest (guest) said...
Subject: creme brulee
I love the way Mr. Chu has presented this recipe and have forwarded the link to an engineer in Germany who really enjoyed this treat in a bistro in Wisconsin. Thank you for presenting it with both the American and the European measurements. I've made this dessert using old time recipes, and it can be a complicated, hair pulling task. Michael Chu has made it all so simple, just like my husband (the resident engineer) might have written it if he weren't busy doing other things.


On August 14, 2010 at 04:59 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Last year I had Valrhona Chocolate Creme Brulee served with Salted Caramel Sauce at the La Lucciola Restaurant in Bali. It was divine and have been thinking about trying to reproduce it back here in New Zealand. It was great to find this site with so many useful comments about making CB that I'll use this recipe as the base and go on from here. Just got to find a salted caramel sauce recipe!


On September 23, 2010 at 09:32 PM, Dr Oetker (guest) said...
Subject: Crème Brûlée with Ease
As a [b:6cb73c698e]Crème Brûlée[/b:6cb73c698e] aficionado for >20 yrs I have stumbled on the easy way to make CB and taste is restaurant quality

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Even order from Amazon --

Product Details
Dr. Oetker Classic Crème Brulee Dessert Mix 3.7 oz by Oetker New: $2.59 B) B)


On December 17, 2010 at 11:04 AM, Oak (guest) said...
Subject: slightly easier modification
I lost my tried and true recipe (ratio really) for creme brulee, but this one is close enough that I can't tell the difference. The ratio of yolk-to-cream is important to get right, but one egg yolk more or less isn't going to be a deal breaker I guess. Personally, I like having a high yolk-to-cream ratio like this recipe has since I like a heavy and luscious custardy creme brulee rather than the lighter one you get when you only use the chef "recommended" 3-4 egg yolks to 2 cups cream.

Anyway, I wanted to mention that there is an easy modification to help ensure perfect custardy consistency every time -- deeper well ramekins. The ones shown here are wide and thin. They work fine, but timing is a little more tricky for the beginner and it is easy to overcook the creme.

I personally use deeper but narrower ramekins that hold the same amount as shown here. I find them far more forgiving since you can get a 1) higher water bath for better insulation and 2) decreasing the surface area while maintaining the volume causes the heat to percolate slower into the matrix, allowing smoother cooking and less chance of cooking through too quickly.

On the other hand, I cook at a higher temperature, 285-300, and cover my ramekins with foil to reduce evaporation from the creme. I also start with hot-ish tap water instead of boiling in the water bath to help make sure that the water and the creme are brought to temperature together and slowly. This also means I cook for longer, usually about an hour twenty to an hour and a half.

I don't know how much of this is superstition on my part as I've never experimented much since I started getting the consistency where I wanted it, so YMMV...


On December 30, 2010 at 12:34 AM, Lisarose (guest) said...
Subject: creme brulee and this message board
What a fantastic place to learn from you experts on creme brulee! I have been reading all the comments for almost an hour and have learned quite a lot. I plan to make the basic recipe listed here and will use vanilla beans if I can find them. I believe I will make it in a casserole dish instead of the ramekins. This is because I don't want to buy the ramekins and have to store them. I also don't actually want the carmelized or burnt sugar at all. My sister says then it's not creme brulee, but it's the custard I want. I want to try a chocolate one sometime also.


On January 07, 2011 at 03:11 PM, The_dessert_guru (guest) said...
Subject: Great Creme Brulee
This recipe tastes great, but i can't ever get the broiling right. I now use a flambe kit from dessertsnow.com & it comes out perfect every time. No torching & great aromas


On February 14, 2011 at 12:46 AM, moseywd (guest) said...
Subject: Creme Brulee
A great way to brulee if you don't have a torch is using a heat gun. I have one from ice hockey, used it to replace the blades. Anyway, works great on my creme brulee!


On May 21, 2011 at 01:06 AM, KEBAK (guest) said...
Subject: The wonders of the instant-read thermometer
For those asking about how to tell when done (when baking in oven), try using an instant-read thermometer... when centers reach 170-175 degrees, take them out, remove from water bath (wide tongs work well for this), set on rack to cool to room temperature (approx. 2 hrs., this allows middle to keep cooking), then cover w/ plastic wrap and put in fridge to fully cool (min. 4 hrs.). Tip - for accurate readings, the thermometer needs to be inserted w/ tip in center of food - not touching pan, not just at surface. Worth the investment, not only for this dish, but so many others! Happy eating....


On May 22, 2011 at 02:48 AM, yocona said...
Subject: Re: creme brulee
glow wrote:
After being refrigerated to cool, my creme brulee developed a top layer that tastes like hardened butter; not a desirable addition. When removed, the rest of the custard was perfect. How can I avoid this from forming?
Also, if the ramekins are glass, and the custard has been chilled, won't they break when put under a broiler or when they are torched to get the sugar crackle on top?

I've experienced this under three different circumstances:
using pasteurized egg yolks
letting the cream boil
using 40% heavy cream (instead of 36%)


On July 04, 2011 at 05:36 AM, Alana (guest) said...
Subject: re:film ontop of brulee
you need to put glad wrap/cling wrap on top of your custard before placing it in the fridge this should stop a skin from forming


On July 04, 2011 at 07:22 PM, yocona said...
Subject: Re: re:film ontop of brulee
Alana wrote:
you need to put glad wrap/cling wrap on top of your custard before placing it in the fridge this should stop a skin from forming
This technique is great for preventing a skin from forming on unbaked custard. When I read KEBAK's post, I assumed s/he was referring to custard that had been baked. I've never had a skin form on the baked custard. What I have experienced is more like a layer of fat that separated from the rest of the custard, and then became solid once the brulees were chilled.


On July 05, 2011 at 12:16 PM, keencook (guest) said...
Google 'masterchef Australia creme brulee' and watch 'George' demonstrate cooking a creme brulee. He has good tips. [/i]


On July 12, 2011 at 06:06 PM, Jesse (guest) said...
Subject: Agreeing with ben!
I was on the lookout for a creme brulee torch and could not fine one with both good reviews and a low price tag. A propane torch works as well as butane and very easy to operate not to mention better for any other household application. Home Depot has then crazy cheap and they are a must have to kitchen or workshop.

Also try torching sugar on top of a ramekin filled with creme brulee ice cream. My favorite twist on this dessert.


On September 12, 2011 at 06:28 PM, ilc (guest) said...
Subject: Using mini torch causes strang taste?
Hi there,

I bought a mini butane torch and even though I try to hold the flame further from the creme brulee, I find I can taste the butane?

Is this a common issue?

Thank you


On September 13, 2011 at 01:14 AM, yocona said...
I've made/eaten a lot of creme brulee, and have never experienced that problem. But I've never used butane, only propane--the Ace Hardware version of the Home Depot torch that Jesse described.


On December 07, 2011 at 12:28 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Awesome every time.
I have made this recipe the last few years, and I'm so not a cook. It has turned out incredible, always gets compliments, and is soooo silky. My favorite tip is from the person who said to use a bowl of ice water to dip your fingers into. I didn't have tongs, and it seemed quicker to do this anyway for me.


On January 11, 2012 at 09:06 PM, BEANER (guest) said...
Subject: secret ingredient in creme broulee
a friend of mine went to 'chef school' and brought in this dessert. i had to try and guess what the secret ingredient was. it cayenne pepper. i haven't seen that in any of the recipes i've looked through. what's up?


On January 11, 2012 at 11:13 PM, Dilbert said...
creme brulee is at basis an egg custard with an eye appealing sugar 'top'

the custard really does not have a lot of marked flavors so it lends itself to being "spiced up"

a bit of googling will turn up all kinds of flavorings - including both white pepper and cayenne.

I think the combo works because the pepper has a little "bite" to it which offsets the sweet/creamy nature of the custard.

if you want to try it, I can only offer this advice: a little cayenne goes a long way - it's easily overdone.


On February 01, 2012 at 04:45 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: less egg
use only 7 eggs it much better


On April 24, 2012 at 07:58 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: sugar reduced version
Made this several times now and for the diabetics in the family, I used only 1/2 sugar in the recipe and for the other 1/2 used splenda (measure kind). Made 8 servings, needs to cook just a bit longer, but set well.


On April 26, 2012 at 10:25 AM, philipbradfield (guest) said...
Subject: creme brulee
What a pity that the list of ingredients does NOT include the raw sugar for the caramelised topping!

Famous at Trinity College, Cambridge (reputedly introduced by a SCOTS FELLOW)


On April 26, 2012 at 06:38 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: creme brulee
philipbradfield wrote:
What a pity that the list of ingredients does NOT include the raw sugar for the caramelised topping!

Recipes on Cooking For Engineers don't follow the "normal" recipe format. In the text, we generally include the ingredients we're about to work with and are pretty wordy about the process of putting together the recipe. The full ingredients list follows the article along with the summary of steps in tabular format. The intended way to read these recipes is to read the article first to get an idea and understanding of how the recipe is to be made, then use the summary table (we provide a link to a printable version of just the table) to have in the kitchen with you and actually make the recipe.


On June 01, 2012 at 01:09 PM, AlbCab (guest) said...
Subject: Spicy creme brulee
This recipe is fantastic.

Just a comment for a very early post (years ago ...) regarding the result being spicy.

This happens when you use artificial vanilla flavour in large quantities.

Congrats for the site.


On August 28, 2012 at 12:39 AM, DRALES (guest) said...
Subject: Separating yolks from whites quickly for Creme' Brulee
Put all eight eggs in a bowl and then follow this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Uz2Vnp5ZW4c

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