Sous Vide Crème Brûlée
Crème brûlée (French for ‘burnt cream’) is one of those desserts where you usually need to be ok with the taste of egg. I know there are some people that are not crazy about a strong egg flavor in their desserts and crème brûlée usually isn’t a dish I would recommend for someone opposed to it. But this particular recipe does not give off an egg flavor, IMO. It’s much more creamy than eggy. The ratio in this recipe is different than most crème brûlées, where the whipping cream is much higher than egg. This produces a not-too-sweet, smooth, and creamy dessert. This recipe came from a restaurant back in the 80’s that my mom’s friend somehow got — supposedly. What I do know is that my mom is very picky about her crème brûlées, and this is her favorite.
On to the cooking method, sous vide (French for ‘under vacuum’). You can absolutely make this the traditional way (tempering the eggs with heated cream, and baking in the oven in a shallow water bath. See note below for directions), but for the sake of ease, I really liked the sous vide method. The traditional way isn’t difficult at all, but to me it feels like more of a hassle with heating the cream and dealing with the shallow water bath in a pan. Although, “hassle” might not be the right term. There are some days where I just don’t want extra dishes piling up in and around my sink — so I guess “laziness” is a better term. When cooking sous vide method, you actually don’t need to temper the eggs (by heating the cream). Just whisk up with eggs with sugar, slowly add cream and vanilla at first then pour the rest of the cream in. Then pour through a fine mesh sieve into canning jars (the sieve catches most of the extra foam/bubbles). Tighten the lids “fingertip” tight, drop ’em in the preheated water with tongs and let it cook! Oh, and I tried eating it with raspberries and I have to say the slight tartness from the raspberries works really well with the creaminess of this crème brûlée.
Happy Valentine’s Day, to those who are celebrating it! And for those of you who aren’t, this is a great treat to share with your friends for any occasion or gathering (or a treat for yourself while hovering over the kitchen sink, hoping your toddler doesn’t see what you’re eating and ask for some….been there).
Sous Vide Crème Brûlée
- 4 large egg YOLKS
- ½ cup granulated sugar, more for brûlée topping
- 1 pint (2 cups) whipping cream, not heavy. Heavy whipping cream will produce a heavier custard.
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- Preheat sous vide water bath to 185 °F
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the yolks and sugar. Whisk until its thick, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla.
- Keep whisking the yolks while slowly pouring in the cream to make sure everything is combined. Then you can just pour the rest of the cream in. Stir a bit to combine.
- Optional: you can wait 20 minutes to let the bubbles rise from the bottom and to subside.
- Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the canning jars, leaving a ½” head space. Once finished, you can use a spoon to scoop out any bubbles that made it to the surface.
- Use a paper towel to wipe the edges if you dripped any of the mixture on it.
- Place the two-piece lid on each jar. Tighten the ring to just “fingertip”** tight (you should be able to open it with just your fingertips). If it’s too tight, the air trapped inside can push against the glass and crack/break it. You need to let air escape when submerged, you will see little air bubbles escape from the side or top of the two-piece lids.
- Use tongs to lower the jars into the sous vide water bath. It’s ok to stack the jars!
- Let it cook for 1 hr – 1 hr 30 minutes. To check, use tongs to pull one out and tip the jars a little. If it sloshes around looking very liquidy, then put it back and let it cook for another 20 minutes. When tipped a little or gently shook, it should wiggle inside yet keep it’s position, but not slosh around.
- Once done, remove the jars and place on a kitchen towel. Allow to sit at room temperature until it is cool enough to handle with your hands. In the meantime, prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.
- Once jars are cool enough to handle, place jars into the ice bath to quickly chill for 30 minutes. This step is to prevent heating up your refrigerator and reducing the temperature of your cold items (like any dairy).
- Tighten the lids and chill completely in the refrigerator before serving. At this point, these sealed jars should last 3-6 days in the refrigerator unopened.
- Before serving, let the jars sit out for about 10 minutes so the jars aren’t ice cold when applying direct heat to it. Add about ½ TBLS granulated sugar to the top of a crème brûlée (use more or less depending on how thick you want the crunchy layer on top) and tap and tilt the jars to spread the sugar all around the top. Use a paper towel or your fingers to wipe off the excess sugar on the edges and inner edge of the jars for a cleaner look.
- Use a torch to “burn” that sugar! Make sure to be constantly moving the torch around and try not to aim the flame at the top edge of the jars.
- Serve within a few hours uncovered, make sure to keep it chilled since it is still cream. For best results, serve within 1-3 hours after bruleeing the top layer.
- No sous vide? No problem! You will need to heat the cream in a small pot until it’s bubbly around the side of the pan, set it aside. Continue with step 2-6. Be sure to use ramekins, because technically glass canning jars are not oven safe generally, so you might only get 6 servings. Place ramekins in a baking pan with sides. Pour water until it’s about 1″ high. Bake at 350 °F for 45 mins or until it’s set. Using ramekins means you have the option to brûlée the top layer through broiling.
- **”Fingertip” Tight Hold the jar with one hand, and with your other hand use only your fingerTIPS (your palm of your hand should not touch the lids) to tighten. You can find videos on YouTube for examples.
- How long will the crunchy, hard, brulee crust keep? I’ve tried one uncovered from the refrigerator after 5 hours of being bruleed and it was still hard and crunchy, but perhaps very slightly melted. After 13 hours, the top was soft and as if it was part of the cream underneath. Your results may differ depending on how much sugar you added and how bruleed it is.
Tried this recipe?
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