Last weekend Neil and I indulged in a Marks and Spencer ‘Dine in for £10’; we have one every once in a while as a treat. Neil chose crème brulée for dessert. This was the first time I had tried one. I know, I can't believe it either! I have to say I was a little disappointed by the petiteness of this creamy custard treat, but I soon realised why they are served in such small portions; it is very rich! We both enjoyed our crème brulées and, when I saw that the Baking Bible had the recipe, I was eager to give it a try to see if my efforts could match up to Marks and Spencer!
My first mistake, which I suppose was quite a big one, was not reading the recipe all the way through before I started on Sunday afternoon. The custard desserts are meant to set and chill in the fridge overnight before adding the sugar and caramelizing under the grill. I wished I had made them the evening before as I had initially intended. However, the weather was so fantastic we decided to have a BBQ, so never got round to it. Hey ho! I decided to carry on regardless; I hoped the crème brulées would set in time for us to eat them late evening!
Not only did I need single cream for this recipe, I also required double, eek! Egg yolks are broken into a bowl; the whites – the part which isn't fattening - are not used. I added a surprisingly small amount of sugar to the egg yolks and beat together with a few drops of vanilla extract. I measured out the single and double cream. Is it shameful that I licked the lids?!! The creams had to be put into a saucepan to heat. Mary says it should be scalding – just too hot to put your finger into! Yes, of course I burnt my finger and it did really hurt! Even with a sore finger I soldiered on and poured the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan of cream, making sure I kept beating the mixture as I did so. That was pretty much it, all very simple and straightforward. All I had to do was pour the custard mixture into ramekins, stand the little dishes in a roasting tin filled with hot water and bake in the oven until set.
The crème brulées were ready after half an hour. They didn't look much different to when I put them in the oven! I left them to cool before covering and popping into the fridge. I should have left them in the fridge overnight but, due to my mistake, I was going just to leave them a few hours and hope for the best. After three hours I took my little ramekins out of the fridge. They were nicely chilled and perfectly set. I carried on and sprinkled quite a lot of demerara sugar on top of each crème brulée. I heated the oven grill to nearly its hottest setting and placed the ramekins on to the top shelf. I kept my beady eye on them as much as I could; I didn't want the sugar to burn. It took just a few minutes until the sugar had melted and caramelized. Rather frustratingly, we still couldn’t eat them as they had to cool down and then go back into the fridge for several hours. I really wish I had read the recipe properly! By about 8pm the crème brulées were back out of the fridge and ready for a taste. When I tapped the hard shell of the sugar with a spoon it broke easily, most satisfying! Underneath was the creamy custard. It looked just like the one we enjoyed from Marks and Spencer, but would it taste as good? I don't like to blow my own trumpet, but I think mine might have been a teeny bit better; it was creamier. Neil was most impressed, he thought they were lovely. I'll have to make these again. They would no doubt impress any guests; they don't need to know how easy they are to make!