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Classic French Crème Brulée - The Topic


tan319
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Re: caramelizing sugar on top. I've always used a broiler or a torch - with mixed results. I was just going through some cookbooks and read this brilliant solution. Instead of sprinkling the sugar on top and burning, caramelize some sugar in a pot on the stove. Pour a small amount on top of chilled custards and roll the container around, resulting in a thin, even topping - like doing a creme caramel, but reversed.

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May i cut in with other problem with the brulee?

I used vanilla pods and all the seeds were at the bottom.

Is it supposed to be so or should it be scaterring all over in the texture?

Does anyone have experience in this?

Thanx!

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Re: caramelizing sugar on top.  I've always used a broiler or a torch - with mixed results.  I was just going through some cookbooks and read this brilliant solution.  Instead of sprinkling the sugar on top and burning, caramelize some sugar in a pot on the stove.  Pour a small amount on top of chilled custards and roll the container around, resulting in a thin, even topping - like doing a creme caramel, but reversed.

Sorry, but if you pour caramel on custard you get creme caramel, not creme brulee.

Am I right?

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I've read about this and tried to pour caramel on top of a creme brulee to see what that was all about. I find that I can not pour it thin enough.........and I'm not sure anyone else could do better. That oh so thin veil of sugar on top of the creme brulee is what makes the dessert, in my opinion. When you pour sugar on, it's too thick!

I don't believe that that technique makes it a creme caramel. If you poured your sugar on the bottom of your ramikin, then it would be a creme caramel. The sugar would melt down as the custard baked and sat on it. But pouring a caramel over the top.........is not the same. AND technically you use a different recipe/formula for creme caramel then for creme brulee.

Yes, my vanilla bean flecks all fall to the bottom of my baked custards. I use extract for that very reason. You could strain out your infused vanilla flecks...........

But yes, I find it objectionable as do my clients to see all the flecks on the bottom of your dish.....gotta work around it.

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i'm just going to throw this idea out there

i have been making creme brulee for years in many different kitchens with different types of ovens. i have never had a problem with setting. i have been making a cb in a flexi pan this summer. we have made it maybe 85 times in the last 2 months. most of the time it works beautifully. but then all of a sudden for 2-3 days in a row it won't work at all. and then like magic it starts working again. it has driven me to wits end..........however i believe that it may have something to do with the dairy products and how they are being processed. call me crazy but i can't find any other rationale for it. i have been doing this for a long time. i have baked them in convections with low fan, no fan and high fan. with and without water baths and from 200 to 325 degrees. they always set, except when you overbake them and then that's your own fault. i have made every variation possible and never, ever, have i seen this happen. and now you are all saying the same thing.

nkaplan@delposto.com
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i have made every variation possible and never, ever, have i seen this happen.  and now you are all saying the same thing.

I've had similar happen with a couple items and that's one of the great features of networking.......finding out your not alone. I never understood when someone would say their ganche broke........until it happened to me, etc...

I don't know about that Jim........but if it's working, go with it.

I find that the container I bake them throws in a second factor. I'm currently baking brulee in soup cups because they don't own anything else. Some of their soup cups are thicker then others..........therefore heating up slower and cooling down slower.

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  • 4 months later...

i just wanted to offer thanks for this thread's existence; it saved me from total madness. i'll admit i'm an amateur and have never made creme brulee before, but i have been completely perplexed for close to three days as to why they never set. :sad:

on top of that, the recipe i used, not to mention others i perused, all said something like, "refrigerate for at least four hours or up to three days." i made them on sunday evening, and they still haven't set properly. i couldn't figure out that the hell i had done wrong, but i suspect after browsing this thread that the amount of water in the water bath is the culprit for my still-runny brulee.

i'm kinda bummed still about the mishap in general, but i'm glad that i found a possible answer to the problem. will try again soon, with (hopefully) a success story and perhaps pictures.

"i dream of cherry pies, candy bars and chocolate chip cookies." -talking heads

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  • 8 months later...

I tried making a "straight" Cremè Brulèe this weekend, with let's say "not so good" results (Sorry no pictures)

I halved this recipe I googled for.

8 egg yolks

1/3 cup granulated white sugar

2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup granulated white sugar (for the caramelized tops)

I mixed sugar with the yolks and whisked in my kenwood for 3-5 minutes untill I got a paste. I then added the heavy cream and vanilla, and mixed a bit more.

Below I will use the term "pan" to describe the cute little clay things you can bake creme brulee, fondant etc in.

I put the mix 4 small "pans", and the "pans" in a water bath, and placed the whole thing in the oven. that was pre-heated to 300f/150c.

At one point it looked like I was making small soufle's .-) Is this common? They actually rose to well above the top of my pans.

The recipe claimed that 50-60 minutes should be enough to make the brulee set around the edges. Since this was my first atempt I didn't dare to cook them anymore, as my oven was smelling of omelets :-)

I can't imagine how such a mixture would "set" ?

The texture was very open and airy. I remember Creme brulee to be more like caramel pudding/chocolate pudding, smooth and jelly like?? Do I remember wrong? My texture was more like of a soufle or something in that direction.

Any other recipe's, pointers or answers to my questions above ?

Any other recipe's I can use my brand new torch? (I know.. I have a hammer and see nails everywhere .-)

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I tried making a "straight" Cremè Brulèe this weekend, with let's say "not so good" results (Sorry no pictures)

I halved this recipe I googled for.

8 egg yolks

1/3 cup granulated white sugar

2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup granulated white sugar (for the caramelized tops)

I mixed sugar with the yolks and whisked in my kenwood for 3-5 minutes untill I got a paste. I then added the heavy cream and vanilla, and mixed a bit more.

Below I will use the term "pan" to describe the cute little clay things you can bake creme brulee, fondant etc in.

I put the mix 4 small "pans", and the "pans" in a water bath, and placed the whole thing in the oven. that was pre-heated to 300f/150c.

At one point it looked like I was making small soufle's .-) Is this common? They actually rose to well above the top of my pans.

The recipe claimed that 50-60 minutes should be enough to make the brulee set around the edges. Since this was my first atempt I didn't dare to cook them anymore, as my oven was smelling of omelets :-)

I can't imagine how such a mixture would "set" ?

The texture was very open and airy. I remember Creme brulee to be more like caramel pudding/chocolate pudding, smooth and jelly like?? Do I remember wrong? My texture was more like of a soufle or something in that direction.

Any other recipe's, pointers or answers to my questions above ?

Any other recipe's I can use my brand new torch? (I know.. I have a hammer and see nails everywhere .-)

I had great success with this recipe:

1 vanilla bean

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

8 egg yolks

1/4 cup superfine sugar

3 Tablespoons turbinado sugar

Slit vanilla bean lengthwise. Put in saucepan with cream. Bring almost to boil. Take off heat and let stand 15 minutes. Scrape seeds into cream.

Use a fork to mix together the eggs and sugar. Gently reheat cream, then gradually mix it into the eggs and sugar. Strain back into saucepan.

Place 6 ramekins in a roasting pan, divide custard between them. Pour warm water around the dishes to come halfway up the sides. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes til just set with a slight softness at the center. (Keep an eye on them, mine cooked a bit quicker than this)

Leave dishes to cool in the water, then chill for 3 - 4 hours. About 25 minutes before serving, sprinkle tops with turbinado sugar, carmalize with torch, then leave at room temperature before serving.

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Oven too hot. Should be below boiling - more like 160F/75C.

Egg yolks coagulate and thicken at between 150F/65C and 158F/70C, so the cooking medium needs to be just a bit above that.

You are making an egg custard: warm the cream and dissolve the sugar.

Beat the egg yolks, A tsp of cornflour or custard powder helps to stop curdling. Pour the hot cream onto the egg yolks, mix well then put into your molds. Cook gently.

Lots of different opinions on how to get a superfine caramel coating...Use castor sugar, or even cook seperatelyy (powdered sugar sifted onto a circle on baking parchment and put in a hot oven)

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Oven too hot. Should be below boiling - more like 160F/75C.

Egg yolks coagulate and thicken at between 150F/65C and 158F/70C, so the cooking medium needs to be just a bit above that.

You are making an egg custard: warm the cream and dissolve the sugar.

Beat the egg yolks, A tsp of cornflour or custard powder helps to stop curdling. Pour the hot cream onto the egg yolks, mix well then put into your molds.  Cook gently.

Lots of different opinions on how to get a superfine caramel coating...Use castor sugar, or even cook seperatelyy (powdered sugar sifted onto a circle on baking parchment and put in a hot oven)

My oven was quite hot, but they still came out fine, just a bit quicker than the recipe said. You can substitute one tsp vanilla if you don't have the beans. And the tempering is important; don't let the cream boil, and add slowly.

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I usually cook the custard on low heat for 6-8 minute before pouring it into ramekins and baking at 160°C (and in a water bath) for about 30 minutes and always have great results.

Regarding your problem i guess it's because you didn't heat the cream before adding it to the egg yolks.

fanny loves foodbeam

pâtisserie & sweetness

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"At one point it looked like I was making small soufle's .-)"

"The texture was very open and airy. I remember "

"My texture was more like of a soufle or something in that direction."

______________________________________________________________________

Glen:

This all looks suspiciously like some egg whites remaining in the mix.

I would also expect the baking time to be aroung 30 minutes assuming ramekins about 1 - 1.5" deep. The custard mixture is normally cooked to an internal temp. of about 170 degreees.

Tim

Edited by tim (log)
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i don't think you have to scald your cream/liquid before making a brulee mix, but i could be wrong. i do know i've made custards (like creme brulee) that haven't needed heating before baking.

glenn, you did say you whipped your egg yolks and sugar on a mixer. you don't have to do this. all that whisking on a mixer over aerates your yolk mixture. whisking by hand should be enough. strain your mixture before pouring into a ramekin.

even when baking in a water bath, you should cover the entire pan so that the ambient temperature on top of the brulees is kept low as well. the steam helps to keep the tops moist.

they shouldn't souffle at all.

Nowhere do you say you boiled your cream and tempered it into your yolks and sugar. Did you heat your cream or just pour it in your mixer bowl cold?

If you just poured it in cold, that's your problem.

You need to bring your cream to near boil, temper a little into your eggs, then pour the tempered egg mixture back into your hot cream. Strain it, then pour into your ramekins. :smile:

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This was a lot of help! Thanks!

So much for googling for recipe's! Take a look at this one -> http://www.cremebrulee.com/creme.htm recipe for disaster!

Next time, i'll go "straight to the source" (read; eGullet! *S*)

First, I beat (rather heavily) eggs + sugar. Secondly I high-speed mixed beat the whole mixture after adding the heavy cream. I guess this all boils down to me not having the "basic" custard recipe "in memory" so to speak .-)

I'll do a remake, and post pictures in this thread. Thanks for all the help!

:-)

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jACK said; Lots of different opinions on how to get a superfine caramel coating...Use castor sugar, or even cook seperatelyy (powdered sugar sifted onto a circle on baking parchment and put in a hot oven)

Do you means something like using a sifter to get a fine layer of sugar / powdered sugar on a baking parhcment, then place my ramekins upside down and blow away the excessive sugar?

I think I'll stick to my torch for now, I have to find an excuse to try it out :)

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I dont think the oven temperature is too hot -- 300F is what I use (with a water bath, of course), and I get silky smooth custard every time.

I don't think that failure to temper the cream into the yolks would account for the souffle-effect either.

Too much egg white could do it, but you'd have to be pretty sloppy seperating your eggs to get much souffle.

Based on glennbech's description, I would agree that the problem is almost certainly the beating of the yolks+sugar, and then the yolks+sugar+cream mixture. This would incorporate lots of air bubbles into the custard. While most materials expand when heated, gases in general expand much more than liquids or solids.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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It looks to me like you have the wrong ratio of eggs to cream. Try using 2 yolks for every cup of cream. And 1/4 cup of sugar for every cup of cream. Then a pinch of salt. And some vanilla. Scald the cream if you are using a vanilla bean and let the bean steep in the cream, covered, for 15-30 minutes, then scrape the vanilla seeds into the cream. I always heat the cream and liaison it with the egg yolks; it helps the sugar to dissolve.

Don't over beat the yolks and sugar, if you do your creme brulee will have a foamy top.

Try using brown sugar or tubinado for the brulee topping.

I always bake my creme brulee at 300 degrees in a water bath. They have always turned out beautifully.

Good luck.

Eileen

Edited by etalanian (log)

Eileen Talanian

HowThe Cookie Crumbles.com

HomemadeGourmetMarshmallows.com

As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow

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  • 2 weeks later...

hi, i'm a professional cook and have recently(about a month ago) helped out at pastries for my restaurant. Only having culinary school pastry experience, which was three classes, and no one at work to really answer all of my baking questions/problems, I need your help.

my restaurant is a "classic" French bistro that serves a moderate/high amount of people. My question is basic, but I really have no experience with baking. Occasionally, maybe one out of every fifteen to twenty dozen creme brulees I bake do not set. THe last time this happened the brulees were in the oven for over three and a half hours, and still did not set; even with adjusting the temperature. THis only occurs in one of the three still ovens i use, and i have taken the temperature of all the ovens. THe oven in question has the most constant temperature of the other two. Sorry for the long post, but there are a lot of factors and there's really no one to help at work.

thanks,

dave

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