There’s nothing more delicious than creme brulee (French for “burned cream”), an enormously popular dessert served in fine restaurants. It has just four ingredients and can easily be made at home. Serves 4.
To make creme brulee, heat the oven to 275 degrees F. Scald the cream and vanilla extract by heating them in a nonreactive pan over low heat until steaming.
When the cream is hot, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well blended. When cream starts to steam, shut off the heat.
Pour some cream (maybe 1/2 cup) into the egg yolks while whisking quickly. This will slowly heat the yolks, reducing the chance of curdling them.
Remove the whisk from the eggs, start whisking the cream, and steadily pour the yolks into the cream while whisking quickly.
When thoroughly mixed, divide mixture into oven-safe individual ramekins. For best results, an optional step is to chill the filled ramekins overnight before cooking.
Place ramekins in a tall-sided baking pan. Pour simmering water into the pan about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for about 35-45 minutes. See tips for how to check for doneness. Cover and chill at least two hours.
When ready to serve, sprinkle the top of each serving with a thin, even layer of sugar.
If you have a propane kitchen torch, heat the sugar with the flame until it begins to brown. Stop when it reaches a golden color. It should not get too dark.
Without a torch, use the oven's broiler setting to caramelize the sugar. Broil for 20 to 30 seconds within at least an inch of the flame or heating element.