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Monday, April 13, 2009

Creme Brulee Trio

One of the unexpected side effects of Pastry School is my newfound ability to feel wide-eyed and bushy tailed when it’s late (and late to me is 9pm.  I wish I was joking).   Pastry class goes until 10 pm, so I’ve had to break my normal schedule.  I am no longer able to be wrapped up in my cuddly blankets, catching all the zzz’s I can, at 9:30.  After ingesting such enormous amounts of sugar and feeling prosperous and excited about some beautiful pastry creation, my usual bedtime routine has been foiled!

Tonight is one of those  “I can’t go to bed because I'm high on Pastry School” nights.  I made crème brulee, and for the first time, I felt like I had real pastry SKILLS (one should pronounce that “skeeeeels” for maximum effect).

I started out by getting cream, a full vanilla bean (I know, I live an extravagant life), and some sugar simmering on the stove.  As I was waiting for the cream mixture to scald (aka get really freaking hot), I  separated 8 eggs…crème brulee isn’t exactly a “light” dessert…and proceeded to use 8 egg yolks.

I put the nonfat, protein packed whites in the communal “Egg White Bin” for  use in next class (when we make meringues!).   As an interesting side note, egg whites keep for weeks (it’s the yolk part that is first to spoil), so if you have left over egg whites in your fridge, try the smell test.  If they don’t smell like anything, you are good to go.

When the sweetly vanilla cream mixture was good and hot, I combined it with the egg yolks, beating the mixture vigorously (remember to temper, temper, temper!  Nobody likes a curdled crème brulee).    Then, into the oven (and a water bath) the little crème cups went.  

One can tell when crème brulees are done because they jiggle exactly how Santa’s “bowl full of jelly” does.  At that point, it was out of the oven and into the fridge.  While the crème brulee cups chilled, I made some decorations with caramel.  Most of them looked like a small child using their non-dominant hand had taken over, but, a couple turned out to be useable.

After all this caramel madness, my crème brulees had set up enough to torch them (oh yes, with a blow torch).  I felt both very afraid and strangely powerful with the blowtorch in hand...  

Since I had created little caramel spoons during caramel playtime, I decided to used them to decorate the creme brulees.  I topped the sugary flatware with the most beautiful pyramid-shaped sea salt, and placed them on the custard cups.  All this writing  has tired me out…Sweet Dreams!

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