I’m getting this posted a bit later than I intended today, but it is still Tuesday (if only for a little while longer).  TWD is one of the things that inspired me to begin my own blog, so I am very excited to be making my first TWD post.   This week’s recipe is crème brulée (selected by Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake).

Now, I have to admit that I have always been more in love with the concept of crème brulée than with the dessert itself.  I’ve tried ordering it in various restaurants but I’ve always finished the sweet with a vague feeling of disappointment.  It never quite lived up to my expectations.   I can’t quite clearly define what those expectations are, but I can say with absolute certainty that they’ve never been met.

So, I entered into this with somewhat mixed feelings.  Would I be disappointed yet again…this time in my own kitchen?

Before I even started I was at somewhat of a disadvantage.  I didn’t have a torch (although Dorie does provide instructions on using the broiler I knew that wouldn’t be quite the same) and I did not have the recommended type of baking dishes.  My “Prince Charming” was sweet enough to pick up a torch for me in time for my weekend adventure, but I still had to make do with the dishes I already owned…

Not only were they not the recommended type of dish, but I didn’t even have 6 matching ramekins! I got over my lack pretty quickly and moved on to preparing the recipe.

I knew right from the start that I did not want to do the “plain” crème brulée so I carefully perused Dorie’s recommended variations.  I was somewhat surprised not to see chocolate listed but after some careful consideration I decided I would try the cinnamon variation.

Infusing the milk and cream with cinnamon was quite simple and, although it did add about an hour to my prep time, I felt sure it would be worth it.

After getting the custard base together with my cinnamon infused cream mixture I just couldn’t help myself, I had to add some chocolate.  I kept half the custard exactly as Dorie wrote the recipe, but I whisked some melted bittersweet chocolate into the other half.  The aroma of both versions was heavenly and a quick taste of the custard mix promised excellent things for the final product.  It was time to get the mix into my ramekins and the oven.

This is where I met my next challenge.  The recipe stated that it would make 6 servings…

And I suppose it sort of did.  It may be difficult to tell in this picture, but those are each only about 1/3 of a cup of custard.  That isn’t much of a serving to someone who is accustomed to some very large and very decadent desserts.

I ignored any and all misgivings at this point and slipped the whole thing into the oven and sat back to wait for 50 minutes.  Hmm…custards were not set.  60 minutes…still not set.  I was starting to worry a little at this point.  70 minutes rolled by and the custards still weren’t quite set, but I decided I would rather they were slightly under done then over done so I elected to remove them from the oven.

They really don’t look too much different yet from the raw product, but they were certainly filling my kitchen with a wonderful fragrance at this point.

Now I just had to wait for them to cool, and then chill, before I could finally finish them off and savor the results of my efforts.

“Prince Charming” gave me a helping hand and snapped this photo of my first attempt at brulée.  I was overly cautious with the flame and it took me rather a long time to get any color on this first attempt.

But I did eventually get there.  It came out rather pretty, even if I do say so myself.

I didn’t fare quite so well with the chocolate.  I had a slightly too thick layer of sugar and it was difficult to tell when it had caramelized enough.  Even so, I wouldn’t say this came out too badly.

The caramelized sugar cracked perfectly on this one, just the right thickness and perfect texture.  The taste was rich with just a hint of cinnamon lingering in the background and the custard texture was silky smooth.

As expected the caramelized sugar was a bit too thick on this one, it didn’t provide that nice delicate crunch and the edges were actually a bit dangerous to the tongue and palate.  The taste was extremely strong chocolate but the cinnamon was definitely still present.  I think I could probably cut the chocolate back by half on this and still get a nice strong chocolate flavor.  I also think that would have maintained a lighter smoother texture.

So in conclusion I would say that I’m still not going to be ranking crème brulée among my top desserts, but making this recipe has definitely given me a greater respect for the dessert and without a doubt I enjoyed this crème brulée more than any other I have ever tasted (and yes, the cinnamon infusion really was worth it!).

Thank you Mari for your choice!

For those of you looking for the recipe, this is one of those ones that I cannot ethically share.  But you can find it in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours.