Traver’s Day and Creme Brulee
In the summer upstate one of the biggest attractions is the Saratoga Race Track. Established in 1863 the track is the oldest organized sporting venue of any kind in the States. It garners your typical summer tourists to your big city high rollers. The Travers race is the oldest thoroughbread horse race in the country, named for the tracks builder John Travers, and though it is not apart of the Triple Crown races is equally famous within racing culture.
I, for one am no gambler, and though watching racing Thoroughbreads is absolutely a magnificent experience, I just don’t really like the danger involved with the sport. I do find enjoyment out of people watching in Saratoga during the summer. Being the oldest sporting venue in the country comes with some old traditions. The race track perpetuates big hats and fancy dresses for the ladies, and summer suits and cigars for the gents. I spent most of the Travers weekend perched on the patio watching a parade of hats walk by. So for a fancy weekend comes a fancy dessert…That is soooooo simple make despite what you may think! Below are two versions of Creme Brulee: the easy easy way which is a simplified variation on the second creme brulee recipe just beneath it. This method originates from Alton Brown’s Good Eats which requires a little more prep. You will be the toast of the party with this dessert, even if its just a backyard summer barbeque.
The Easy way: you will need ramekins. The recipe calls for 6 -7 8oz ramekins– these are relatively large so feel free to use 12 smaller ramekins. Don’t have ramekins? You can easily improvise with shallow but sturdy coffee mugs that are heat safe.
1 quart heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
2 quarts hot water
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Boil heavy cream and vanilla in a saucepan. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Combine egg yolks and sugar with a whisk just until the color lightens. Slowly pour heavy cream into egg mixture constantly whipping with a heat safe whisk. This is called tempering the eggs. By increasing the temperature slowly the eggs will cook without curtling.
Pour the mixture into your ramekins. I recommend beating the egg-sugar mixture in a large pyrex measuring cup and then combining cream in the same bowl to allow for ease of pouring. Place ramekins in 2-3″ tall cake pan. Slowly pour hot water around the ramekin dishes. Water should reach about half way up on the ramekin. Carefully place in oven and cook for 40-45 minutes.
The custard will look slightly bubbly on top. It will be set but will tremble when you move the pans. Remove ramekins from water and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Will store for up to 3 days. When ready to serve use 1/2 c sugar to sprinkle across tops of ramekins, place on cookie sheet and place under preheated brolier to crisp sugar tops…
Or for the very best results try a slightly fancier way
You will need the same ramekins, cake pans, and a chef’s torch. These are available at any specialty cooking store for about $30 or around the holidays try Target. For about $20 Target typically carries a torch and ramekin set especially for gift giving. Unfortunately its only available around the holidays. Also make sure to purchase butane fuel else your torch won’t work.
So this recipe is the same as above with 2 exceptions
1 quart heavy
1 vanilla bean sliced
Boil heavy cream and vanilla bean together, remove from heat for 15 minutes. Remove vanilla bean.
Whisk 6 egg yolk with 1 c *Vanilla Sugar.
**Vanilla sugar is one of the easiest things to add to your cooking repertoire. Slice one vanilla bean and bury 2c granulated sugar in a sealed container. Some people use within a few days but for peak flavor infusion, store for two weeks before using. You can use your vanilla sugar in just about anything the same way you would use standard granulated.
Proceed the same way: Slowly add the hot cream to the eggs. Pour into ramekins, place in water bath and bake. Chill for at least two hours. When ready to serve remove from fridge (its ideal to remove the creme 30 minutes prior to torching the sugar) Then sprinkle sugar across tops with remaining 1/2 c sugar– you can use the vanilla sugar for extra depth in flavor. Remember its only a teaspoon or two of sugar on each though I like to be a little more generous with the sprinkled sugar to ensure a real crunch factor when eating the creme brulee. Heat sugar with the torch holding 3-5 inches away. Sugar will bubble then brown. Don’t be afraid to let the sugar get to a dark brown– it won’t taste burnt rather candied and the sound of the cracking sugar and the texture of the sugar melting in your mouth as you eat it is to die for.
Entry Filed under: Custards and Pudding