Creme brulee is a dish I set out to master when I was in medical school - it made me feel adult in a time when none of the other parts of my life were quite contributing (ie, 300 square foot apartment, still wearing a backpack, no income and knowing where every free pizza lunch would be on any day of the week on campus). It was cheap and luscious and could be made in advance, and I could serve it with coffee when my aunt came over to sit at my little outdoor-turned-dining table and feel like a real hostess. Recently, I was shopping at the Shaker Square Farmer's Market and picked up a snack of macaron at the Coquette Patisserie stand, one of which was a white truffle and vanilla flavor which was earthy and rich; I knew the flavor would make a great nuance to creme brulee. I use a pared down version of Alton Brown's creme brulee as my base recipe (especially his recommended rest time, a real "ingredient" ensuring a great final texture.) Enjoy! —Emily | Cinnamon&Citrus
egg yolks (I use large eggs)
granulated sugar (I use "vanilla sugar", that has a spent vanilla bean in the container, but regular is fine)
white truffle oil
additional vanilla or granulated sugar for topping, about a tablespoon each
Preheat an oven with the rack in the middle to 325F. Split your vanilla bean in half with a paring knife and use the back of the knife to scrape out the seeds.
In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, vanilla bean seeds and the vanilla bean pod and bring just to a low boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Once at the boil, remove from the heat, cover, and let steep 15 minutes.
While your cream is steeping, combine the egg yolks with the 1/4c sugar in a medium bowl and whisk to combine into a pale yellow, homogenous mixture.
Remove the vanilla bean from the cream and add the cream to the egg yolk mixture in small portions - drizzle in about a half cup at a time slowly, whisking continuously to prevent making scrambled eggs. Add your white truffle oil (I actually tried 1/4 tsp at a time and tasted the base, settling on a full teaspoon for my taste preference - as truffle is a strong flavor I'd suggest doing the same your first try).
Set 6 3-4oz ramekins in a large roasting pan and divide the cream and egg yolk mixture evenly between them (I find the smaller, more shallow ramekins make my preferred texture of creme brulee - you can use 6-8 oz deeper ramekins and double the recipe if desired). Using a tea kettle, bring about a quart of water to the boil and carefully pour into the roasting pan so that the hot water comes up to the halfway point of your ramekins.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, until the custard is set but still has some wiggle in the center. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days - I make these the night before or morning of serving and refrigerate 8-24 hours generally.
Remove the creme brulee from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to serving. When you plan to serve, sprinkle the top of each creme brulee evenly with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Using a kitchen torch and moving in smooth passes, melt and brown the sugar to form a crispy top. Allow to sit 5-7 minutes for the top to firm up, and serve.