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Creme Brulee

We are not birthday cake people at all. For my birthday, I usually have a lemon tart or a pie - this year, Jen, at Piccante Dolce made me a delectable lemon meringue pie which was THE highlight of my birthday dinner. Last year the kid requested a chocolate wafer/whipped cream cake that my good friend, Kate, makes and this year he asked for creme brulee. The problem is that I couldn't find my creme brulee recipe anywhere. I read a hundred others and couldn't find anything that sounded right and I was about to have a breakdown when I thought "Look to Ina. If anyone knows a really fattening, terrible for you but delicious, decadent dessert it would probably be her. I took down my Barefoot in Paris book and there it was. The perfect creme brulee with just a couple of small changes and now I don't care if I ever find my old recipe because this one is absolutely perfect.

Creme Brulee

adapted from Barefoot in Paris

1 large egg
4 large eggs yolks
1/2 cup sugar plus 1 tlbs per serving
3 cups whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean
2 tbls maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 300F.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a deep bowl with a hand mixer), mix the eggs and the sugar together until just mixed. Meanwhile, split the vanilla bean and scrap it out then throw it all in the cream. Heat the cream until just before it starts to come to a boil. The minute I see the tiniest hint of a bubble on the surface, I take it off the heat. You want to temper the eggs before adding all that hot cream by adding just a tiny bit of the hot cream to the egg/sugar mixture and mix it on low speed for a few seconds. Start to slooooowly add the hot cream to the egg/sugar with the mixer going until it's all added in. Add the maple syrup, let it take another few turns and then turn the mixer off.I like to strain the custard into another bowl that has a pouring spout to remove the vanilla bean and any tiny bit of egg that might have scrambled a bit when you first add the hot cream.This recipe says it will get you 5 or 6  6-8oz ramekins but I got 9 in my small ramekins.So, pour the custard into your ramekins which you have set into some sort of a baking pan. After they are all filled, carefully pour boiling water into the pan until the water comes halfway up the ramekins. Carefully move the whole thing into the oven on the middle rack and bake 40-45 minutes until the custard is set and it's just a little wiggly looking in the very centre.Remove the custards from the water bath and let them cool completely on a wire rack. Once they are cooled, put them in the fridge until you are ready to eat them. At that time, take them out of the fridge, sprinkle a tbls of sugar on the top of each custard and shake it all around to make sure each one is completely covered with sugar.This is where you get to fire up your handy blow torch and torch the surface of each custard until the sugar bubbles up and gets all brown. Let them sit for a minute or two to let the coating cool and harden.

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