Coffee Creme Brulee Recipe
At its simplest, creme brulee is nothing more than a custard made of egg yolks, cream, sugar and vanilla with a hardened caramel crust cooked in a bain marie, or water bath. But a simple list of ingredients and technique cannot come close to describing the luscious adventure of cracking through the burnt sugar crust to the creamy bites of heaven nestled underneath.
The origins of creme brulee are clouded and often disputed. The earliest recorded appearance dates back to 1691 in France, but egg custards were well known in medieval Europe. Trinity College used to brand their insignia into the hard caramel crust and the branding iron used to do so is still on display in the dining hall.
It would be understandable if creme brulee had fallen out of the gourmet imagination, given its longevity, but there is always a way to freshen the recipe by adding lavender, fruit or, in its most delectable permutation, coffee.
Coffee Creme Brulee Recipe
2 cups brewed coffee
2 1/4 cups whipping cream
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons sugar
5 eggs, chilled
Kitchen torch, optional
Place 2 cups of freshly brewed coffee into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat until the coffee is gently simmering. Let it reduce, stirring occasionally, until you have about 1/4 cup of coffee. Remove the coffee syrup from the heat.
Butter six ramekins to keep the creme brulee from sticking.
Preheat your oven to 350 F if you do not have an automated bain marie.
Place the whipping cream and vanilla extract into a small saucepan and heat them gently over medium-low heat. Do not let them boil.
Separate the eggs while the cream mixture is heating. Save the whites for another recipe. Whip the yolks with the sugar until they are thoroughly mixed.
Whisk the hot cream into the eggs and sugar very slowly. The idea is to temper the eggs without allowing the heat of the cream to cook them.
Stir in the coffee syrup. If there are any visible lumps, strain the mixture to remove them. Pour the custard into the ramekins.
Place two inches or so of water into your bain marie and bring it to a simmer. Place the ramekins into the simmering water. Add enough hot water to bring the level up to the top edge of the custard. If you are using the oven, place a casserole lined with a clean dish towel onto your oven rack. Place the ramekins on the dish towel. Add simmering water until it is even with the level of the custard inside of the ramekins.
Cover the ramekins with the bain marie lid or aluminum foil. Cook them for 30 to 45 minutes until the center is still loose and the internal temperature is 170 to 170 F. Let the custard come to room temperature in the water bath. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve them.
Just before serving, cover the top of each ramekin with sugar and either caramelize it with a kitchen torch or your broiler.
The java passionistas at Coffee Retreat recommend sincerely checking out the fine selection of quality bain marie and other kitchen essentials at CS Catering Equipment (in the U.K.) to ensure that everything you prepare comes out perfectly every time.
For those of you in the U.S.A you might be interested in this type of bain-marie.