You must know that I am a frustrated historian. Before starting this blog post about White Chocolate Crème Brûlée, I needed to know the history behind the “darling of the restaurant boom”.
According to food historians, the origin of crème brûlée is unclear. Based on my light reading on the history of the beautiful brûlée, countries like France, Spain and Britain claim the origin of this perfect dessert.
France claims the origin most especially for its namesake, which is in French after all. The earliest recorded crème brülée recipe in France was in 1961.
Spain claims that the crème brûlée originated from their version of the Crema Catalana, which was created in the medieval ages. Well, that was a while back!
Britain’s claim to the origin of crème brûlée dates to the 17th century when a student had this brilliant idea of serving custard cream with burnt sugar in the form of the Trinity College’s seal.
Crème brûlée bagged its modern reputation when it boomed in the 1980s. Le Cirque in New York City created its debut into the restaurant world and thus, the darling of the restaurant boom was reborn. I would call it the Brûleéessance.
However way this simple but elegant dessert originated, we do know one thing, crème brûlée is the Audrey Hepburn of desserts.
What does Crème Brûlée taste like?
Crème brûlée is basically a creamy custard that when formulated into perfection, becomes silky-smooth. To make this simple wonder complete, it is usually topped with white sugar and torched to perfection.
Crème Brûlée vs Panna Cotta
You may wonder what the difference is between the famous Italian dessert, panna cotta from crème brûlée is. The foundation of both is cream and sugar but one is thickened with gelatin and the latter is made plump with egg yolks, close to the method of making ice cream.
Both desserts leave an impressive and sweet note to whoever eats them. Both are perfect on their own yet also comparable to a blank canvas wherein there’s a lot of room for imagination.
How to make Crème Brûlée without a torch
Given that, I’ve widened my imagination and added white chocolate to the classic crème brûlée at home. White chocolate hits a sweet spot in my comfort zone. It reminds me of my childhood and for it to be fused into this darling dessert is definitely the cherry on top of the cake.
Making crème brûlée at home could be intimidating but it’s actually quite simple. All you need is an oven, some ramekins, the skill of vigorous whisking and a spoon.
To make the crème brûlée with white chocolate, you must heat up the cream with the seeds from the vanilla bean pod until it steams. Transfer the infused mixture to a bowl and add the white chocolate chips, whisk until it dissolves.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar vigorously just until it is light in color and thick. Using a small ladle, add a little bit of the warm white chocolate – cream mixture into the beaten egg yolks and stir steadily to temper the eggs. Add the rest of the cream mixture into the egg yolks.
It is important to place your ramekins in the deep baking sheet so that there is less movement for the cream mixture once they are in the ramekins. The less movement you make, the less bubbles the final product will have.
Gently pour the mixture into the ramekins to avoid bubbles. Once it is done, place the baking sheet in the oven and pour the water into the baking sheet before you close the oven door. That is a dear tip that I learned while I was working in the restaurant to avoid spillage.
Once your crème brûlée is steam-baked to perfection and cooled, sprinkle white sugar on top and use an old steel or metal spoon that you no longer use. Bend it and let it pass through the fire on your stove until it warms up and simply melt the sugar using the base of the warm spoon. ET VOILÀ! Torched crème brûlée without the expensive blowtorch!
If you don’t have vanilla bean available then you can find a replacement here.
- Blow Torch
- 2 cups Heavy Cream
- 1 pod Vanilla Bean
- ½ cup White Chocolate Chips or Chopped White Chocolate
- 6 tbsp Granulated Sugar
- 4 Egg Yolks
- 3 tbsp Granulated Sugar (for topping)
- Preheat your oven to 160 C or 320 F. Heat up at least1 liter of water to boil and set aside.
- Slit the vanilla bead pod in the middle and scrape thevanilla seeds off. Place them in the saucepot and add all of the cream. Warmthe cream mixture until it steams. Do not burn and boil. Transfer to a mixingbowl and whisk in white chocolate until it dissolves.
- In a mixing bow, vigorously whisk the egg yolks andthe 6 TBSP of sugar until it becomes thick and light in color.
- Using a ladle, add one scoop of cream mixture into thebeaten egg yolks to temper the eggs. Slowly add scoops of the cream mixtureuntil everything is blended.
- Place the ramekins in the deep baking dish and gentlypour in the cream mixture into each ramekin. Make sure to be gentle to avoidbubbles.
- Place the bakingdish in the oven and pour in the hot water into the baking dish and close theoven. Bake for 50 minutes and cool.
- When the crèmebrûlée is cooled, sprinkle white sugar on top. Bend the base of the old spoonand let is pass through the fire on the stove until hot. Gently baste the topof the crème brûlée to caramelize the sugar.