Spring is finally here, which means it's also maple season! While the nights and sometimes the days are still chilly, why not make this decadent and surprisingly easy dessert?
Five simple ingredients are all you need to make what is essentially a vanilla custard topped with scorched sugar. I love cracking into the hard candy shell before scooping out the creamy custard.
I was seriously surprised how simple this recipe was to make and how wonderful the end result was. I'm pretty sure Crème Brûlée is now my go-to dessert for when company comes. This recipe makes 6 in total, but they can last for few days in the fridge before being brûléed so you have options!
Don't have a brûlée torch at home? No problem, you can just use the broiler feature in your oven instead, I assume that's how they managed to do it back in the day before personal torches.
2 cups Heavy cream
1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp good-quality vanilla extract
1 small egg
3 egg yolks
7 tablespoons good quality maple syrup
4 tablespoons fine sugar - I used regular but ground it up with my mortar and pestle
6 small ramekins
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Pour the heavy cream into a saucepan and place over medium heat. While the cream is heating, slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, using a sharp paring knife. Separate the seeds from the skin by scraping the bean with the knife. Place the seeds and skin in the heating cream. Gently heat up the cream until bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan. Remove from the heat and remove the vanilla bean.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the whole egg, egg yolks, and maple syrup until well blended. Continue to whisk while slowly pouring the hot cream into the egg mixture and whisk until the mixture is smooth and homogenous in color. Strain the custard to have a completely smooth preparation, if you used the vanilla bean.
Place the molds on a baking sheet with 1-inch-high sides and fill them.
If you have a convection oven just bake them as it is, if not you need to bake them into hot water. Pour enough water into the baking sheet to reach halfway up the sides of the molds. If you are using a convection oven, however, a water bath is not needed because the even circulation of the air insulates the custard from the direct heat.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes. Remove the molds from the water bath and place on a cooling rack for 30 minutes. Then put in the fridge to let it set for at least 2 hours (or for to 3 days) before serving.
Preheat the broiler. Place the molds on a clean baking sheet. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the sugar over the top of the custards. When the broiler is hot, place the sheet about 4 inches under the broiler and broil until the sugar is caramelized. Keep a close eye on the creme brulee during broiling. They are finished when they are light brown. Otherwise, use a torch to scorch the sugar. Place each mold on a small dessert plate and serve immediately.
Et Voila, Bon Appetit