p2: Tarte Tatin

msb_05_tarttatine_xlThe Sweet

The idea of making an Apple Tart in a caramelized, upside-down fashion isn’t new, featuring in various instances in Northern France recipes. Careme himself mentions “gâteaux renversés” in his 1841 “Patissier Royal Parisien,” glazed and using apples from Rouen. It’s said the actual dish and technique itself is named “Tarte Solognotte,” named after the Sologne region in which it became a specialty.

But its fame never stood out until the late, late 1800’s, when two sisters within that Sologne region opened up a hotel. They may not have officially invented it, but Stephanie and Caroline Tatin’s famous dessert brought the “Tarte Tatin” to the forefront of popularity, even though they never advertised nor released a recipe; the name itself was written by the famous French epicure and auther Curnonsky.

And their “happening” upon the dish is a funny story, depending on who you choose to believe, if anybody. For of course many claim an “accidental creation” by the sisters, and in more ways than one. There have been those who state one of the sisters accidentally put a regular tart in the oven upside-down. While others say that the apples for a pie filling started to burn one day, so they quickly covered in dough and moved to an oven to try and salvage. Whatever the story, and whether any of it is actually true, the fact remains that the sumptuously caramelized dessert vaulted to the forefront of epicurean popularity, especially after the owner of Maxim’s in Paris decided to place it on their menu.

And the rest is history. We now see the Tarte Tatin lauded in various blogs, randomly discussed in Pastry classes, used in classic and modern interpretations throughout wherever, featured in an episode of the Simpsons Ratatouille-Anton-Ego-remeniscent-even-though-the-damn-“flashback where he enjoyed “Tarte Tatin a-la-mode”-was-using-a-slice-of-regular-apple-pie-instead-of-proper-tarte-tatin-the-lazy-and-insulting-bastards… etc.

Chef’s Overdramatic Self-Centered Lecture Corner

How I see it, there are two main ways to make one of these well. The first, and most easily controlled, method is to simply make a caramel in the saucepan, then arrange the apples (cooking a bit more if desired) on top and baking. The second is cooking the sugar, butter, and apples all together until it caramelizes completely. I personally prefer the latter, since it feels a bit more classic, plus I love the idea of all the flavors mingling and developing together at the same time. Though the first method is great for trying out OTHER kinds of tart tatins (pear, peach, mango, etc).

One main note; when cooking the mixture, which will boil quite vigorously (no need to worry, it settles down a lot once taken off the stove), one needs to make sure it’s at a nicely medium-high to high temperature. If it’s too low, the apples will soften to almost mush before it caramelizes (in fact the apple half I was gonna use as my “centerpiece,” which I had put in first, split in half just as I was about finished). Too high isn’t much of an issue though; other recipes say “too low is mush, and too high the apples won’t cook enough,” which is complete bull. I actually replaced my ruined center with two RAW quarters, and those were completely cooked after I took it out of the oven.

Though one should take care to keep the apples moving around when cooking it hot; as you’ll see a couple of mine started to get some burns. Though on the other hand I think that actually stayed stuck to the pan after flipping, leaving just the beautifully smooth and caramelly apple top.

ApplesAs for the apples themselves, the truly French classics are made using a couple varieties called “Reine des Reinettes” (King of the Pippins) and “Calville.” Good luck, if you can find them in the US then a miracle has taken place (and please tell me where and how you did it!). Otherwise, basic baking/pie apples work as a good substitution, such as Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Gala, and Jonathan; I went with Braeburn myself.

In the matter of dough, though quite a few recipes call for and some other pages say you “can use” Puff Pastry, in theoretics it should always be made by some kind of Shortcrust or other flaky Pie dough; if you wanted to stay traditional that is.

Tarte Tatin
5-6 Braeburn, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Gala or similar apples
4 oz (1 stick) Butter
1 cup Sugar
Tsp Salt
Basic Pie Dough (recipe follows)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.SAMSUNG
  2. In a wide-bottomed pan set to Medium-High, melt the Butter.SAMSUNG
  3. Once melted (or close to), sprinkle in your Sugar, stirring to incorporate until the grains dissolve somewhat.SAMSUNG
  4. While waiting for that to happen, quickly peel, quarter, and cut the cores out of your first 3-4 apples.SAMSUNG
  5. Toss them into the pan, turning to coat in the sugary fat.SAMSUNG
  6. As space opens up through cooking, peel and quarter the remaining apples (as needed) to fill the pan in as complete a single layer as possible.SAMSUNG
  7. Let cook for about 20 minutes, or until the bubbling sugar gets well caramelized. Stir every so often to ensure apples don’t burn and caramel is evenly distributed.SAMSUNG
  8. Remove, letting the caramel settle and arranging the apples, cut side up (so the uncut side will be up once flipped), in the pattern desired.SAMSUNG
  9. Prepare the Crust. Flour and roll out the dough in a large enough circle to cover the pan, trimming and cutting around a lid or similarly sized item.SAMSUNG
  10. Fold (or roll over pin, your preference) and move it over the apples to cover completely. Poke a few small holes around the dough to ensure venting.
  11. Place in oven, baking 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.SAMSUNG
  12. Remove, letting cool at least 10 minutes for the caramel to set somewhat.SAMSUNG
  13. Place serving plate or other pan over top, quickly and carefully flipping. Fix any apples that may have stuck, slice into wedges, and serve however desired (ice cream with cookies and meringue is good…).SAMSUNG

Basic Pie Dough
2 ½ cup Flour
Tsp Salt
8 oz (2 sticks) Butter, cold
¼-½ cup Iced Water

Directions

  1. Combine Flour and SaltSAMSUNG
  2. Chop the cold Butter into small pieces, adding them in. With your fingertips or in a food processor, start working the butter into the dough, pulsing or kneading it until the flour has a cornmeal-ish AND a good amount of pea-sized butter pieces.SAMSUNG
  3. Slowly drizzle in ¼ cup of Water, mixing it into the dough quickly until it comes together/pulls from the side, adding more water as necessary.SAMSUNG
  4. Divide in half, press into a flat round and wrap in plastic. Move into the fridge for at least an hour before use.SAMSUNG

My Thoughts

What is it about cooked apples and pie crust that makes us so damn insatiable, craving bite after bite until the whole damn baking dish is gone? I blame the butter, mainly in the crust but especially in the caramel for this old dessert. The whole thing was gone before the end of the night.

Really rich, sticky, toffee-like caramel, muSAMSUNGch of which was leftover in the cooking pan to spoon up and chow down as is (look at it hang off that spoon!). The apples were just so soft and sweet and yum, contrast this with the perfectly crispy crunchy crust and this just makes a craveable after-dinner treat. I was actually worried about the crust, too, since as you can see in the pics some caramel had sorta “soaked through” part of it during cooking, but even that was still crispy. Oh, and that was after the raw dough just sat on top of the wet caramel for like half an hour or more (we were supposed to be at a certain point in dinner prep, but certain people were just sloooowwww and didn’t inform me until AFTER getting the pie dough on); so suffice it to say it’s a pretty durable recipe.

End of the day, I liked it and really wanna make it again, maybe with some different fruit.

23Possible Pairings

Deep, richly flavored caramelized apples? Sounds like a job for Calvados to me, the signature apple brandy of Northern France. If you can find an amazingly old, smoothly aged XO or similar quality bottle, that would make for quite the divine experience.

Though a deliciously syrupy glass of dessert wine wouldn’t be too bad either. Despite the regional closeness though, I don’t think any of the Loire dessert wines would work so well, at least not with THIS version of Tarte Tatin. They’re usually of the lighter, medium sweet variety, great with cheeses and lighter desserts. So unless one found a REALLY old, concentrated Quarts de Chaume (like a grand cru of the dessert region) or have a tarte tatin that’s not so deep with caramel, then I say go with another region.

Good quality, deeply colored old Saut24ernes; Selection des Grains Nobles from Alsace; Tokaji Aszu from Hungary, preferably of the higher puttonyo range; the Brown Stickies (Muscats, Tawnies, whatever they call them) from Australia, and, oh, a PX (pedro ximenez) from Sherry. All rich, syrupy, delectably sticky drinks influenced by botrytis, barrel ageing, oxidation, or a combination of all three. There are so many more similar fortified and dessert wines which jump up (god I want a Marsala right now), but this is a good starter list.

Truthfully, those are all probably TOO sweet and heavy for the actual dish, but I just can’t help but craaavveeee them whenever I think of this caramelly caramelly pie. Guess I’ve got a sweet tooth.

Actually, thinking about what would make a more “proper” and technical pairing, a dry Oloroso Sherry. It has those deep and complex flavors, matching oxidized caramelization, and I think the salty levels would juxtapose the sweetness in a fun way. Or maybe an Amontillado, which would still have some yeasty characters, which would pair nicely with the pie crust.25

Huh, a little more chatter with my dessert pairings than I usually try for. Oh well, pie and super-sweet wines gets me excited. Don’t forget to look into beers as well!

p1: Cheese Souffle

Part Two of my Soufflé adventures, this one taken place for a morning B-day Brunch.

The Dish

It’s sometimes said that, in truth, the very first soufflés were a variation of an omelet. There is in fact a recipe of “Omelette Soufflé,” involving a VERY well beaten mixture of eggs and milk which is cooked mostly in the oven. Some accounts have it that after this followed an even more intensive recipe whereby the yolks and whites were separated, the latter being whipped to a voluminous nature, and folded back in to make what has to be the simplest and most basic soufflé ever. Cooked in a heavy skillet pan of course.

Whether there’s truth to this or not, I find the recipe idea fascinating; the term “soufflé” itself translating purely as “to blow/puff up.” As a descriptor, there are probably many kinds of recipes it could have applied to before being known as what it is today; heck, I doubt that original omelet really rose that much (not the one that was separated, that woulda been huge, I’ve seen videos…) and yet there it is. Was there an evolution to it, a slowly winding path of eggs and pastry finally culminating in Careme’s use of newly ventilated ovens? Or was it just a random stumbling and popping up of various clumsy dishes until one finally made something epic?

Whatever the case, soufflé has been discovered and is here to stay, in all its wonderful forms. And though our initial thoughts always land on the rich chocolate or velvety vanilla dessert, there is always that other intriguingly delicious side of the coin, the “savory soufflé.” Basing the main flavors out of things like Ham, Fish, Seafood, Spinach, and so many others, the discovery of this whole aspect of soufflé cookery truly shows the immense versatility of the dish.enhanced-buzz-6383-1389654115-2

And the absolute King of all these is the Cheese Souffle. I have no clue exactly when or who first made it, probably Careme he’s made everything, but the results have spoken for itself. That amongst all the savory soufflés that can be made, it is one focusing purely on regional Gruyere that has implemented itself as THE Classic and Traditional savory version of this dish that Represents the rest.

Which is all I really have to say on the matter, let’s start getting into this food!

A Word On…

Soufflé: I’ve already talked a lot about soufflé construction in my Dessert article, and I’m too lazy to write it again, so read some more stuff there.

Cheese: Though I could definitely see a not-too-untasty version of this with Cheddar, the true king of this French classic has and always shall be Gruyere. It melts very well, super flavorful, and goes good with eggs.

SAMSUNGWhen trying to stay classic, one thus has to ensure they get FRENCH gruyere, as most of what we see regularly is from Switzerland. Swiss style makes an almost perfect substitute of course, and I do not fault the use of it for any reason, but for my purposes the French is best. And for those also trying to follow suit, that means you want to look for “Comte” Gruyere, one of the main two regions to actually make the cheese (I forgot the other one, but I couldn’t find it myself anyway so let’s just focus on comte). You may, as I did, find a couple kinds, regular and “doux,” a double aged version. Just stick with the younger, simpler one, which thus melts easier and carries a little more straightforward flavors.

Cheese Integration: A very interesting thing I found. After expecting practically every recipe to call for melting the cheese into the Bechamel (a white, milk-based gravy which most savory soufflé bases are made from), it was a shock to see quite a few did something different. Instead of adding it to the hot sauce, the shredded gruyere was folded into the cooled down mixture at the same time as the whipped egg whites. This actually seems to be somewhat more of the classic method, especially since Julia Child did it as well, so I thought I would try my hand at it. If you want to too, I would just suggest that you make sure the cheese is shred FINE; don’t want big pieces around when also handling the delicate egg whites.

“Encrusting” Cheese: Something quite peculiar I’ve found in most recipes for this is that, instead of dusting the heavily buttered pan in flour (or sugar like what’s done with dessert soufflés), other cooks sprinkle the sides with Parmesan. It was an odd substitute for flour, but I guess if it works then it boosts the whole cheesy aspect even more, even Julia Child did it. So I thought I’d look into it a bit more…SAMSUNG

Two Problems. First, though I am of course willing to honor and try this technique, there is no way in HELL I’m using PARMESAN for a FRENCH meal. I don’t care if it’s used even in classic recipes, it is not a French cheese, so no go. Thus I set myself to find the hardest French cheese I could in search of a reasonable substitute, and even had a pretty good idea in mind…

Only to find out that some a-holes decided to ban the shipment Mimolette, which would have been THE perfect cheese. It has the EXACT same texture as parmesan, and now of all times I need it for something. But of course, they just happen to decide that the termites are too much or something or other… so I ended up with the OTHER comte, comte doux, which I guess ironically is the firmest French cheese we can now get in our market. Funny how that worked out.

Second issue. I tried it. The damn thing screwed up my soufflé. Weeelll, not really screwed up… but as you’ll see in pictures later, my little baked baby never got the chance to rise up the sides of the pan and above the lip (the center did, burst right out, but not the actual sides) like it was supposed to. And I buttered EVERYTHING damn good. It was the cheese and I know it; I love the crust it gave it, but it held my soufflé hostage from itself. The bastard.

It’s an easy fix though. Next time, I’ll just rub the cheese (which reminds me, best way to grate this is on the rougher side of the box grater; you know the section that looks like a bunch of little metal tents?) on the bottom and lower half of the pan, that way the top is completely unrestrained. Cuz I still like the flavor and texture it gave, but it needs a lot of controlling.

Wrapping: With my dessert,SAMSUNG I wrapped the whole thing with parchment paper, but for this one I decided to try using aluminum foil instead, a technique that Julia Child and others tend to feature. I’d like to give results on which one I prefer, but as I just mentioned my soufflé was never able to raise high enough where I could tell. Either way, both are options, and the foil is MUCH easier to actually wrap around the dish.

Cooking Time/Temp: Instead of the iSAMSUNGdea to start at 425F and immediately turn down to 375F, most recipes for this call for an even 400F. Which makes sense, as it took a noticeable amount of time to actually cook… in fact, much longer than the recipes called for. A lot will say around 25-35 minutes, but even at 30 mine was painfully undercooked, as I found out after trying to serve it.

Unless you’re using a different kind of dish, or the batter turns out differently somehow, then it’ll take more like 45 minutes to cook all the way through. Really need to make sure it doesn’t move at all when shaking it.

Maybe if I tried the melted cheese method it would have worked?

Cheese Soufflé
4 Tb Butter
3 Tb Flour
1 ½ cup Milk
Tsp Fresh Grated Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper
4 Egg Yolks
5 Egg Whites
1 Tb Water
½ tsp Cream of Tartar
6 oz Comte Gruyere, finely grated
½ – 1oz Comte Doux Gruyere, roughly grated

Directions

  1. Turn oven to 400F.
  2. Melt Butter in a saucepan set over Medium heat.SAMSUNG
  3. Whisk in Flour to a paste-like Roux, cooking over heat for about a minute.SAMSUNG
  4. Once the roux has lightened slightly (Blanc stage, right before it starts darkening again), carefully add the warm or room-temperature Milk, whisking in to fully incorporate the two.SAMSUNG
  5. Heat the sauce, watching and stirring often so it doesn’t burn or curdle, until it thickens enough to coat a spoon (Nappé).SAMSUNG
  6. Season with Nutmeg, Salt, and Pepper before slowly pouring the hot mixture into the Egg Yolks to temper.SAMSUNG
  7. Let this rest and cool slightly on the side while you start whipping your Whites, combining them with Water and Tartar in a bowl.SAMSUNG
  8. Whip on High with a stand or hand mixer until reaching firm, stiff peaks.SAMSUNG
  9. Take this and alternatively fold 1/3 of it at a time into the still-warm Bechamel along with the finely grated Comte.SAMSUNG
  10. Quickly prepare a large, straight-sided casserole or soufflé dish if you haven’t already. Heavily and thoroughly butter the bottom, sides, and rim before sprinkling and coating the bottom and lower ½-1/3 of the sides with grated Comte Doux. Enwrap the container with a long, folded piece of aluminum foil so it sticks straight up from the rim.
  11. Fill the dish with as much of the batter as you can get in, trying to get to the very top.SAMSUNG
  12. Move to oven and bake 35-45 minutes, minimum, until it has risen noticeably, developed a dark brown complexion, and set all the way through.SAMSUNG
  13. Spoon onto a plate to enjoy as-is, or served with a Poached Egg, Hollandaise, and Cheese Wedge for a delicious breakfast.SAMSUNG

The Verdict

A lot different than I thought it’d be, but ohhhhh so good. I’m not sure if I actually got it to what it’s supposed to be (in fact I think there may have been a chance of slight overcooking), but boy did I not care.

It was like that perfect expression of airy, fluffy eggbake, or omelet, or scrambled egg texture, but different; it wasn’t heavy, but it wasn’t light either, just a warm juicy mouthfull. One which, soon as you bite into it, you get that flavor and feeling of CHEESE, heavenly heavenly gruyere cheese, that practically melts into your mouth, but you know nothing is actually melting. It’s like ideal form of a cheese omelet. Overall that’s just the best way I could describe it in my mind’s eye; I suggest you make it for yourself to fully experience.

SAMSUNGOh, a really fun surprise too; after taking it out of the oven (-cough- for a second time), my immediate worries were that there had been some burning; I mean you can see the picture. Actually that was one of my favorite parts of the whole thing. The older gruyere on the outside had fully melted and caramelized into a rich, heavy, sorta crusty strip of cheesy goodness reminiscent of the “burnt” bits of grilled cheese, or the last bits of congealed stuff at the bottom of a fondue pot (which any Frenchman will tell you is THE best part). Not only was it just plain awesome, it added a nice dimension next to the richly singular juicy-soft insides.

Something tells me my sister may be demanding I make this again soon…

Primary Pairing – Loire Whites

Whether it’s a sharply acidic Sancerre, lightly sweet and Riesling-esque Vouvray (or many of the other Chenin Blanc wines of the whole region), or the mildly yeasty and subtle body of a Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine, the whites in this northern area of France are all amazing to pair with food, and each shine qualities to match this interestingly light to medium bodied, fluffy cheese-centered dish. Don’t get me started on what their famous Cremants and some of the lighter dessert wines of the region could do for this… or a Savennieres! Oh, such an oddly unique, vibrantly strong character that Chenin Blanc region wine has; almost like the oxidation qualities in the previously discussed Jura.SAMSUNG

What you choose all depends on what you’re craving to drink with the souffle. The sauvignon blanc-based whites of the Central Valley/Eastern Touraine will cut right through everything; many of the Chenin Blanc based Vouvrays and Anjou-Saumur wines provide a fullness to lift up those rich flavors; and the Muscadet-based wines actually MATCH the salty qualities, not to mention the body. Cremants and Desserts (Coteaux du Layon, special Vouvrays, etc) are great for special occasions.

SAMSUNGMy Bottle: 2012 Chateau de la Roulerie, Coteaux du Layon

A little fat in the mouth, just a bare amount of sweetness, and a solid acidity from this all Chenin Blanc wine make for a svelt, yummy pairing alongside the hot, cheesy dish. Normally I might not have a Layon as my first choice, the particular region in the Anjou area known for its almost total devotion to refreshing Dessert wines. This basic Table Wine version, however, holds those sickly qualities back with simple, not-so-ripe grapes, while still maintaining just a bit of the area’s characteristic sweetness to counterbalance the salty cheese.

The body matches, the acid is enough to stand up to the fatty egg and cheese, and it just has that perfectly simple table wine nature that just makes you want to gulp it down with the area foods, much like I did that morning.

Secondary Pairing – Fine or VS Calvados (apple brandy)calv

Who doesn’t love Apples and Cheese? Cider would be great too, but I do enough of that, why not get into some good hard liquor every once in a while? The region that makes it is close by, it still has a bit of that fruity sweetness (though hard to find through the alcohol, I know), not to mention those barrel-aged and distilled(heated) flavors of baking and caramelization that match with the crispy dark soufflé cooked cheese on the outside. Who cares if I’m drinking in the morning, I think it would go really well with the big, fatty breakfast version I made as well, as the high alcohol would be able to just cut through all that butter, yolk, cheese, etc.

Which is one of the things I learned in class about the stronger alcoholic beverages; they pair with foods a lot better than some may think they do, so don’t be too afraid about using them. Many brandies and whiskies have a bit of tannin to them; maybe some sweetness; they often carry a strength in certain flavors that one just can’t find anywhere else (just look at liqueurs); and the high alcohol can actually be used to contrast and cut high fats, acids, sweetness, etc. Even if one has a light bodied dish, so long as at least one component is noticeably strong, we can consider Hard Alcohol as a potential, proper drinking partner. Just have to find the right one, and for here I would just love a younger Calvados.

p2: Creme Brulee

Image                I do seem to enjoy starting each of my projects with a dish that’s just classically cliché (such as the Coq au Vin), so of course Crème Brulee should be my first adventure here. Not to mention it was a fun V-day Brunch Dessert with strawberries.

The Sweet

THE classic dessert, served in a variety of French cafes and restaurants, fine dining US spots, even brunch buffets. Who knew as simple Custard with Burned Sugar on top would have become so popular?

Maybe most of Western Europe, considering how much they’ve contested ownership rights. It is an interesting bit of history, since no one is TRULY clear as to where the dish properly originated. The earliest Recording seems to have been in the mid-1600’s, in England of all places. Trinity College, Cambridge, the cooks made a simple sugar-topped Custard dish where they burned the College Crest on with a branding iron, and thus their claim to the recipe is born. Which I wouldn’t be too surprised if it turned out true, considering the widespread use and popularity of Custards and other Egg-binded “Puddings” in English dessert cuisine. Then it was known simply as Burnt Cream, or Trinity Cream to honor the college origins.

It’s first appearance in a cookbook came in 1691, in France, the Cuisinier roial et bourgeois, called Crème Brulee; though interesting he changed the name to Crème Anglaise (English Cream) in a later book. Also taking into account that early French versions simply made a disk of caramel on the side beforehand to place on top for service, the argument for French dominance seems a bit weaker and weaker.

The Final, and least likely, originator comes in Catalan (Spain), with crema catalana/cremada(burnt). Same kind of recipe, but with cinnamon and citrus zest added, its first recorded appearance seems to have come sometime in the 17th century.

Though the dates on all these seem to go back and forth; one place said that Cambridge started burning in 1879, another that the French didn’t first list until 1731, it’s all a bit confusing and unclear. And not to mention this is all just based off of records, there’s still no evidence or word of mouth who actually made the first version. But either way, we have this delicious dish of contrasting textures and rich toffee-cream. Who cares when it’s all about indulging?

Chef’s Overdramatic Self-Centered Lecture Corner

SAMSUNGVanilla beans are a pretty pricey thing these days, so I only like using the ones I have when it fulfills two criteria. 1: it’s a special dish/occasion, and 2: the vanilla is able to SHINE, i.e. it’s usually a very, very simply flavored dish with no notably competing/contrasting element, usually custard. Crème brulee is a good dish for this.

But because I so rarely use them, MY vanilla beans seem to have “dried up” ever more than usual; they’ll actually snap if I bend them far SAMSUNGenough. It makes splitting them open not so easy, and a pain in the ass trying to get all the seeds out. Turns out it’s an easy fix when using them to infuse though; just let it soak in the Cream (or other liquid you’re cooking) overnight beforehand. It softens up so nicely, just look!

Seeds are easy to scrape out again, and if anything you just got some extra infusion time for a more in depth flavor.SAMSUNG

As for the custard, my recipe searches have found that nearly all recipes use ONLY Heavy Cream as their dairy of choice; which is usually odd with custard recipes. The main differences come simply in how many yolks are used (my favorite being Alton Brown’s, who uses the minimum 6 for a quart of cream; it keeps it to a really tender and soft pudding) and whether it uses cornstarch or some other binder. Ignore the starch additions, you don’t need them at all, and they only serve to mess up the flavor.

Finally, when it comes to Torching your sugar, I do always suggest using a blowtorch if you have one (the little handheld guy is so fun and a great tool to have); but not everybody does. Fear not, a simple solution presents itself; just turn your Broiler on High and stick it in (after the broiler’s warmed up of course). There are a couple adjustments to how the dish should be treated as you go, and I’ve made a couple notes in the recipe where suited.SAMSUNG

Crème Brulee
1 Vanilla Bean
1 Quart Heavy Cream
Tsp Salt
6 Egg Yolks
½ cup Sugar + Extra for dusting

DirectionsSAMSUNG

  1. Split vanilla bean, thoroughly scraping its insides of the fine seeds with a paring knife.
  2. Transfer both seeds and leftover bean pod to a pot with the Heavy Cream and Salt; warm on Medium heat untilSAMSUNG thoroughly Scalded (skin starts forming on top and the edges are barely simmering).
  3. While warming, whip Yolks thoroughly with a whisk, slowly incorporating the ½ cup of Sugar, until it turns very pale yellow and fluffy.
  4. Slowly pour in a bit of the warmed SAMSUNGcream at a time, “tempering” the delicate yolks to the heat. After about 1/3 of cream is incorporate, simply dump the rest in, whisking to fully mix.
  5. Let cool on counter, cover in plastic wrap (pressing to the top to prevent skin formation), and transfer to fridge for a minimum 2 hours or Overnight.
  6. Strain out vanilla bean and ladle your custard into whatever ramekin or other ramekin-like container you have.
  7. Turn oven to 325F and start boiling a large SAMSUNGsaucepan (2 quarts) of Water.
  8. Transfer ramekins to roasting or other baking pan, carefully filling with the hot water  until it’s just a bit below where the custard level is.
  9. Bake until mostly set and the center still jiggles when you shake, about 40-45 SAMSUNGminutes.                Note: if using a larger baking dish, or Broiling later, then feel free to take out earlier than it may seem. The residual heat, greater than in the small pan, should follow it through further, plus the Broiling heats the custard up a lot.
  10. Move to fridge for overnight, or until chilled completely.SAMSUNG
  11. Remove 1/2 hour before ready to serve. When close to ready, sprinkle on an even, only slightly heavy layer (don’t want it super fine or thin, just a bit more sugar than that) over top, shaking and rotating ramekin to get an even coating.              SAMSUNGNote: if Broiling, I actually DO prefer a finer layer, as it takes longer for the sugar to start cooking, and can get much more spotty than with a torch.
  12. Brulee sugar however desired, whether with blowtorch, broiler, or the classic branding iron.
  13. Let sit 5 minutes after caramelizing and serve, on its own or with fruit.

My Thoughts

SAMSUNGI really like this custard recipe; very nice and creamy, not that rich/heavy with the yolky custardy flavor, simple but developed. The vanilla bean is able to shine through along with the sugar flavor very well. As for the dish, always a classic; crispy, crunchy sugar caramel with a smooth milkfatty pudding. French comfort dessert at its finest.

Possible Pairings

layon-vv-18One of the many French desserts that have lost a sense of belonging to a particular region, being seen all over. Often with those kinds of desserts, they’re usually attributed a bit more towards the Parisian area, so Loire pairings it is.

I think one of the lightly sweet Coteaux du Layon dessert wines made with Chenin Blanc would be delicious, or a Methode Ancien sparkling Loire (also made with Chenin), especially if one could find a Demi-Sec version (half dry, or really half-sweet).

Vouvray_Sparkling_Chenin_blanc_wineCan’t leave out the other countries vying for credit on the burnt cream’s creation. And England has been creating some wonderful Sparkling Wines as of late; with their continental temps, they might even have Ice Wine. Either of those would be a fantastic, simple drink next to this I believe.

As for Catalan in Spain, hmmmm….. I SAMSUNGknow! They make a great lightly sparkling, off-dry Cider in the Basque. It’s sort of musky, but pure and simple, and just a nice little gulp. Would go great with the cinnamon-citrus zest version, and I happen to have a bottle that I used to pair with an upcoming Savory French 44 dish.

IMG_4499And to end on hard alcohol, a glass of Calvados (an apple brandy made in Northern France); it’s on the border of France and England, shares similar flavor profiles with cognac to make it match the burnt sugar of the dessert, not as overpowering when young. But gentle and deep when old, a good drink with complexity to go with the very simple but delightful custard.

And that ends the first of hopefully many “sweet” posts on the subject. Hope those reading enjoyed it, and are able to take some fun things into consideration with their next baking session. I’ll see you all on the next go-round!