Anytime i get to use my kitchen torch it makes me smile! I use it for a number of dishes including meats, baked pasta dishes, desserts ,... and one of my favorites is just smelling the burnt caramel as you torch your crème brûlée , a delicious french custard. Dinner parties in my place i pass the torch and each guest gets to finish off their own dessert. But before the torching takes place we need to cook the custard.
You will end up with a bunch of egg whites and i either make a egg white frittata or bake some french macaroons.
1/2 vanilla bean
2 cups of heavy cream
4 egg yolks
pinch of salt
1/4 cup plus 8 tsp of sugar
Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 300F. Have a medium saucepan of boiling water ready. Line a shallow baking pan with a small kitchen towel (The towel stops the rameckins from sliding form one side to the other in your baking pan).
Split the vanilla bean lenghtwise down the middle and scrape the seeds into a small saucepan. Add the heavy cream and stir it. Warm the cream until bubbles form around the edge and steam begins to rise. Remove from the heat and set aside to steep, about 10 minutes.
Whisk together the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar until pale yellow , about 5 minutes.
Remove the vanilla bean from the cream mixture and i usually let it dry and then add to sugar for a later use or you can sprinkle the vanilla sugar on top, your choice. Slowly and always whisking , add the cream to the egg mixture until blended. Pour the mixture into four 6-oz ramekins and place the ramekins in the prepared baking pan . Add boiling water to fill the pan halfway up the side of the rameckins.
Cover the pan loosely with foil and bake until the custards are just set around the edges, about 45 minutes.
Transfer the rameckins to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature , then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 4 days.
To serve sprinkle 2 teaspoons of sugar on top of the custard and caramelize the sugar with a kitchen torch. Serve right away.