Can I Make This 3-Ingredient Crème Brûlée?
I'm not a big dessert person as I've mentioned. However, if crème brûlée is on the menu, it is usually one of my go-to choices. :) One of the reasons I like to order it in a restaurant is that it is hard to make at home. When I saw this 3-ingredient Crème Brûlée on Tasty, (ice cream, egg yolk and sugar), I had to give it a try.
Crème Brûlée reminds me of my brother. He is a home cook, but really good, almost like a professional chef. When he became interested in cooking, he went through a crème brûlée phase and bought ramekins and blowtorches. He made us eat crème brûlée almost every day. I didn't mind that much. :)
Though the first known recipe for crème brûlée is from 1691, an interesting fact I learned about crème brûlée via Wikipedia is that it was not popular in French and English cookbooks in the 19th and 20th centuries. Crème Brûlée"vanished" from cookbooks until the 1980s when it became "a symbol of that decade's self-indulgence and the darling of the restaurant boom" probably made famous by Sirio Maccioni of Le Cirque who claimed to have made it "the most famous and by far the most popular dessert in restaurants from Paris to Peoria".
You know what the say: If it plays in Peoria...
Saturday, October 26, 2019 & Sunday, October 27, 2019: Attempt #1
The 3 ingredients are: 1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream, 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of sugar (for the top) -- for one serving.
I am kinda frugal, but I actually like this brand of vanilla ice cream over others I've tried; it's really creamy. In general, for ice cream or cheese or any snacks, I don't buy low-fat or healthy versions because I won't sacrifice taste for low-fat. I'll just eat less. Anyways, sometimes the healthy versions of food don't feel as satisfying or filling and you end up eating more. That said, if the healthy versions taste good, then I'll eat them. For Mint Chip (one of my favorite flavors), one of my favorites is Three Twins Slim Twin Mint Chip Ice Cream; I also like Edy's Slow Churned ice creams.
If you are cooking or baking, you have to do a lot of experimenting if you try to use low-fat versions or alternatives to butter or milk, etc. Replacing ingredients will change the taste, texture and bake times.
Equipment: Ramekins or ceramic dishes/bowls that are safe in the oven
When I decided I wanted to do this recipe, I decided to buy ramekins. As you may have noticed in the posts, I'm generally lacking in basic cooking or baking equipment. :) I baked off the little tray from my toaster oven for ~1 year until I upped my cooking game. Anyways, I thought maybe the bowls I had would be safe in the oven, but I didn't want to risk them exploding or cracking.
Ramekins, like anything, can be cheap or expensive. I bought the cheapest ones or one of the cheapest ones. The nice thing about ramekins, is though we associate them with fancy things like creme brulees or souffles, you can use them everyday. They are just a bowl or dish that is also safe in the oven.
The recipe is pretty simple. You microwave the ice cream to melt it, let it cool, and mix in 1 egg yolk before putting it in the oven (325 degrees). The minimum overall time for this recipe is ~3 hours: after prepping, you have to bake for 40-50 minutes and then let cool for at least 2 hours before adding the sugar topping / eating. You can make the recipe a day or a few days ahead; after baking, the crème brûlée can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. That's what I did. I baked them, then put them in the fridge overnight.
To try out this recipe, I did measure the 1/2 cup of ice cream. You may or may not know this: there are different measuring cups for dry ingredients (e.g. flour or sugar) vs. liquid ingredients. I don't know how old I was before I learned that. :) I treated the ice cream as a liquid ingredient, though it was semi-solid.
I melted the ice cream in the microwave: ~40 seconds. I let the ice cream cool completely at room temperature before adding the egg yolk. Like other recipes, you want the mixture to be room temp or cold before adding an egg, so it doesn't scramble. I thought about putting the hot melted ice cream in the fridge or the freezer to speed things along, but I thought that might impact the recipe. It didn't take that long for it to cool anyways.
Hot water bath: One interesting thing about cooking crème brûlée is that you put the ramekins into a baking pan which you fill with water about halfway up the side of the ramekins.
Instead of holding the baking pan under running water, which makes it heavier and easy to spill, I recommend putting the ramekins into the baking pan, then using a separate cup to pour water into the baking pan (not the ramekins though :) ) until the water is halfway up the side of the ramekins.
Then, carefully you put the ramekins/baking pan into the oven. I did it without spilling! :)
I baked them in the 325 degree oven for 40 minutes as in the recipe (recommendation: 40-50 minutes).
In the recipe it says, after baking in the oven, "The crème brûlée should be set, but still a little jiggly in the middle." I noticed that the crème brûlée did not seem jiggly; they were a little more set. Next time I try it, I will decrease the bake time to 35 minutes.
I let them cool to room temp and then stored them in the fridge overnight.
The next morning, I took them out of the fridge and put them on the counter (at room temp) for at least 30 minutes before I attempted brûlée-ing as noted in the recipe.
I did not buy a blowtorch. :) I did see this spoon trick for caramelizing the sugar on top on another Tasty video (around 7 minute mark) that I tried and I also tried the broiler.
Amount of sugar on top for the Brûlée
In the recipe, they use 1 tablespoon of sugar on top. I did this on the first crème brûlée. One tablespoon seemed like a lot, so on the second crème brûlée, I used half: 2 teaspoons. The more sugar you use, the longer it will take to caramelize. Along these lines, the less sugar you use on top, the more closely you have to watch it because it will be more likely to burn.
Attempt of spoon trick with crème brûlée #1
I tried the spoon trick from the Tasty video, but I couldn't get it to work. You wrap the handle of spoon with a towel and then you heat up a metal spoon over an open flame (like a gas stove). Then, you press the hot spoon onto the sugar. In my first attempt, I held the spoon to the flame for 10 seconds and then applied it to the sugar. A few granules became brown, but not really. For the second attempt, I held the spoon to the flame for 15 seconds and then pressed it onto the sugar. It worked a tiny bit better, but not really, so I abandoned it and tried broiling the top. I put the pictures in chronological order of attempts (10 seconds & 15 seconds) below. ** If you want to try this spoon trick, BE CAREFUL!
I then tried putting them under the broiler to caramelize the sugar. This worked well! In some of the comments in the Tasty recipe said they couldn't get the broiler to work well. I pressed the HI Broil button on the oven and let it heat up for a couple minutes (not sure if this is needed) before I put the ramekins in.
Also, if you look into the oven, at the roof, you can see where the broiler is, you need to put the ramekins on the top rack and directly under the broiler.
RESULT: Pretty much a success! :)
We are good at this! Looks pretty good and tastes pretty good. The sugar on top caramelized well and had a good cracking sound. Check out the video. :)
It is not what I would expect in a fine dining restaurant of course, but it is pretty good. Not only is this crème brûlée recipe easier, it is actually healthier than the original even though you are using ice cream. A 1/2 cup of ice cream has ~100-150 calories. The original recipe uses heavy cream. Based on a few recipes I found, it's ~500 calories for 1 serving in heavy cream alone. But I'll still order crème brûlée in a restaurant "for the table," you know, for sharing (not!). Haha. :)
Next time, I experiment with this recipe, as I mentioned above, I will decrease the bake time to 35 min.. I will also work on perfecting the brûlée-ing.
To be continued...