Crème brûlée can be intimidating even from the look of the very words themselves. Just look at them! All those fancy symbols making it appear all complicated. However, be not deceived! It does not need to be hard and you can even get away without buying a kitchen torch (although they are pretty cool and may come in handy during the zompocalypse). Instead you can just toast the top using your oven's broiler. For simplicity's sake, let's just call it burnt cream. It has a rustic ring to it.
Name aside, there is something quite decadently irresistible about a creamy, smoke-laced vanilla custard that is hidden underneath a sweet, crystallized top. The perfect pairing is like chips and queso.
Simply put, you just gotta try this.
PREP TIME: 25 minutes
COOK TIME: 1 hour
RECOMMENDED PELLETS: Apple or Cherry
6 tablespoons Sugar in the Raw (turbinado sugar), or granulated sugar
1 quart (4 cups) heavy cream
1 whole vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon good-quality vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur (optional)
10 egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Hot water for baking the crème brulees
Assorted berries such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc., for serving
Mint leaves, for serving
When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Put the 6 tablespoons of Sugar in the Raw in a clean coffee or spice grinder and grind until the coarse crystals are fine (Alternatively, you could just empty and use your pepper grinder.) Set aside.
Pour the cream into a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the pulp and seeds; add both to the cream. Or stir the vanilla extract into the cream. Add the Grand Marnier, if using. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Remove from the heat and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain into a large pitcher with a spout.
Reserve the vanilla bean for another use.
In the meantime, make the custard: Add the egg yolks and 3/4 cup of granulated sugar to a large mixing bowl.
Using a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar with the whisk attachment until they are a pale yellow, about 2 minutes. (You can make the custard using a whisk, but it is hard work.)
Very slowly add the cream with the mixer running continuously on medium-low speed. If you add the cream to the egg yolks too quickly, the eggs will scramble and your custard will not be silky-smooth.
Put a fine-mesh strainer over the mouth of the pitcher and pour the custard mixture through it. Arrange six 7- to 8-ounce heatproof ramekins on a large rimmed baking sheet or in a cake pan. Divide the custard among the ramekins.
Carefully set the pan with the ramekins on the grill grate of your Traeger. Pour enough hot water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Smoke the crème brulees for 15 minutes.
Increase the heat to 325 degrees F and continue to bake the crème brulees until they are set, 40 to 45 minutes depending on the depth of the ramekins.
Let the crème brulees cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until well-chilled and firm. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Just before serving, evenly dust the top of each crème brulee with the reserved raw sugar.
Using a small kitchen torch, melt and caramelize the sugar, moving the torch constantly, until the sugar’s crisp and golden brown. If you don't have a kitchen torch, place the ramekins in a large baking pan and fill space between with ice and water. Set your broiler to High and let the custards broil until the tops are caramelized to your liking.
Top with berries and mint and serve immediately.
Crème brûlée Recipe.docx (13.14 kb)