Crème Brûlée with Raspberries
1993 Outstanding Chef award winner
It's no surprise that Jean-Louis Palladin, one of the most influential French chefs to work in the United States, created one of the best crème brûlée recipes we've ever tried.
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- One 8-inch-long vanilla bean
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup very loosely packed dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
- 4 small mint sprigs for garnish
Preheat the oven to 250ºF. Place the cream in a small pot. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape, and add the scrapings and split pod to the pot. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and granulated sugar in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously until thick and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Return the cream to a boil, then remove from the heat and gradually add to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly; continue whisking about 1 minute more. Strain through a chinois or fine sieve.
Place four 4-ounce ramekins in a small baking pan and fill them with the cream mixture. Add an inch of warm water to the pan, transfer the pan to the preheated oven, and bake uncovered for about 2 hours. Start checking for doneness after about 1 hour and 45 minutes: when done, the custards will feel fairly firm if pressed lightly and will jiggle a tiny bit when the ramekins are gently shaken. (The center should still be slightly runny, but it will thicken when chilled.) Let the custards briefly cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Place the custards on a cookie sheet or in a baking pan that will fit under the broiler. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, spread the brown sugar evenly over the bottom of a small baking pan. Bake in the preheated oven until dry but not starting to melt, about 4 minutes, stirring at least once. Remove from the oven and let cool briefly.
Preheat the broiler. Process the sugar in a blender to break up any hard lumps, then sift through a sieve. Discard any sugar that will not go through.
Sprinkle each custard with about 1 teaspoon of the sifted sugar, then wipe off any sugar that’s clinging to the inside edges of the ramekins (or it will burn under the broiler). Broil about 4 inches from the heat source, just until the sugar melts and starts to bubble, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the broiler. Top each custard with a single layer of raspberries and a mint sprig. Serve immediately.