OH SWEET, sweet Valentine's Day - the perfect time to indulge in the sinfully rich French dessert known as creme brulee.
The literal translation of crème brulee is burnt cream; a misnomer, in fact, as it's not the cream that is burned but the crunchy toffee topping.
To achieve the perfect topping it's worth investing in a cook's blowtorch. You can buy cheap brands but probably a mid-range price tag will deliver better service without breaking the budget.
250ml pure (unthickened) cream
1/4 cup caster sugar plus one tablespoon extra
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 large free-range egg yolks (reserve whites for another recipe)
fresh berries, to serve
METHOD: Preheat oven to 160 degrees.
Place two oven-proof ramekins in a small baking dish.
Place cream in a saucepan with 1/4 cup sugar and add vanilla bean paste.
Heat over medium heat until bubbles appear around the edge; do not allow to boil.
Using a wire balloon whisk, whisk egg yolks in a jug.
Still using the whisk, beat the hot cream into the egg and sugar mixture until combined.
Pour custard into the ramekins, and use a spoon to skim off any froth.
Fill the baking dish with enough hot water to come halfway up the ramekins and cook custard at 160 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
Custards should still jiggle a little.
Remove from oven and carefully lift each ramekin clear of the water with a spatula or egg slice.
Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack then cover loosely with foil and refrigerate for at least an hour.
TO SERVE: Sit the ramekins in cold water in a baking dish to prevent curdling.
Sprinkle the tops of the custards with the remaining caster sugar.
Using a cook's blowtorch, heat the sugar, moving the flame constantly, until it bubbles and turns a rich dark brown.
Serve with fresh berries.
Contact Maggie at firstname.lastname@example.org
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