Emma's little Beehive class has been doing something very fun over the last few months. One Tues. night activity a month is devoted solely to recipes. Each girl in the class brings the prepared dish that she loves and also the recipe to share with everyone. They have a giant tasting night and swap recipes to put in their recipe card holders they made. Emma is accumulating quite a collection of recipes. So far they have done appetizers, and main dishes. Tonight is a dessert night, but cookies are not invited. They are going to have another night dedicated to just cookies! So on with our thinking caps. Emma absolutely loves cheesecake and was going to make Grandma Garner's famous frozen cheesecakes in a muffin cup, but I'm just not feeling cheesecakey! What a food snob I must be. But I am feeling a little Creme Bruleeish. I know, Emma's supposed to choose and make the dessert by herself, but I must be involved too. Therefore I talked her into Creme Brulee.
Now I've made Creme Brulee many times, and I have never got it quite right until just recently. I am never patient enough to let my custard bake in a water bath in the oven, so I usually crank up the temp and end up with a curdled mess. Also I don't think a broiler does a very good job carmelizing the sugar on the top. That too turns into a curdled mess. That is why I have learned to improvise. Isn't necessity the mother of all invention.....I needed a quicker dessert with more of an instant gratification factor.
Actually the recipe is a spin on James' mom's custard recipe for her cream pies. I just added a few things and did a bit of tweaking and wha-la........fantastic Creme Brulee. It is made entirely on the stovetop. No more nasty little water bath. The kitchen torch is a must though. I have a funny story to tell about mine. (Don't I always:) ) A few years ago I bought James a kitchen torch for Christmas since he is the big Creme Brulee lover in our family. It didn't come with a lot of signage, or big fancy banners on the package. Just a simple little nozzle thingy. James pulled it out of his stocking and was so excited. He didn't care what it was, he just knows how to put on a happy face no matter what he gets. So after a few oh's and ah's he said what is it? Is it a nose hair remover? I died laughing. I think we must have seen a few to many late night infomercials while I was nursing a new baby or something. It probably would do a really good job with the nose hairs though:) So the kitchen torch is great, but if you don't have one just use the broiler. It will curdle your custard a bit, but as I always say.....imagine that it is perfect! Enjoy because I'm sure we're going to.
Super Easy Creme Brulee
3/4 c. sugar
3 T. cornstarch
2 T. flour
2 c. cream
1-2 c. milk
3 egg yolks
1 t. vanilla
pinch of salt
1 8 oz. container Marscapone Cheese (This is a fancy Italian type cream cheese. It is kind of
pricey, but it really adds a richness to the custard. If you don't want to buy it don't worry it will still be good without. Don't substitute regular cream cheese though. It has too strong of a flavor. You'll find Marscapone in the specialty cheese section of the grocery store.)
Combine all the ingredients together except for 1 c. of milk and the Marscapone cheese and stir over a medium stove until combined. Continue stirring until the custard starts to bubble and thicken. Let it boil slowly for a few minutes. Stir in the Marscapone cheese now and maybe some milk depending on how thick the pudding already is. The custard will set up a lot while it cools. Pour into individual ramekins, or into a big casserole dish. Cool for a few hours. Right before serving sprinkle the top with sugar. Either place under a broiler until sugar is browned, or use a kitchen torch (nose hair remover). Serve with fresh berries if you have them. Another option is adding about 1/3 c. cocoa powder with the other dry ingredients or 1/2 c. chocolate chips to the hot pudding. This makes a lovely Chocolate Creme Brulee!