The tablespoon of sugar for caramelizing the top of each custard creates a nice, thick crust to dive into. A culinary kitchen torch can be used instead of the broiler.
Make Ahead: The baked crème brulees need to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days in advance before applying the sugar for caramelization.
- 10 large egg yolks
- 1 cup plus 8 tablespoons sugar
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 6 ounces good-quality white chocolate, such as Callebaut, finely chopped (do not use baking chips)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Have eight 6 1/2-ounce ovenproof creme brulee dishes or similar size ramekins at hand, as well as a roasting pan large enough to hold the ramekins in a single layer. Boil a kettle of water.
Whisk together the egg yolks and 1 cup of the sugar in a large bowl.
Bring the cream just to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, then remove from the heat. Add the white chocolate and stir to combine until smooth. Using a whisk, gradually add the hot chocolate mixture to the egg-sugar mixture in the bowl. Add the vanilla extract. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a separate clean bowl or pitcher. Ladle or pour the mixture into the ramekins in the roasting pan.
Pull out the rack in the bottom third of the oven and place the pan with the ramekins onto it. Pour the boiled water into the pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully push the rack back into the oven. Bake the custards in their water bath for 45 to 60 minutes, until set. (The custards will be set when you gently shake the pan and they barely jiggle in the center.) Carefully transfer the ramekins from the pan to a wire rack to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until they are completely chilled.
When ready to serve, position the top oven rack 4 to 5 inches from the broiler element. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet. Sprinkle each custard evenly with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes, watching constantly, or until the sugar on the tops of each crème brulee bubbles and caramelizes to a golden brown. Rotate the baking sheet as needed for even caramelization.
Adapted from Zoe Behrens of 1789 Restaurant (1226 36th St. NW; 202-965-1789), who was the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington pastry chef of 2006.
Tested by Shaune Hayes.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.