February 13

CRÈME BRÛLÉE

The key to dessert is not to have too much, especially after a big meal, and I always say that while crème brûlée is a great dessert, two bites is just about all you need (ours is, technically, three bites but who is counting). At the end of the meal, when you’re full, do you really want a large bowl of cream, milk, egg yolks, and sugar? I don’t think so, which is why the one we serve at Landmarc is just enough for a few spoonfuls—no more, no less. That way you get a little something sweet, but you are done with dessert before it can get heavy. It’s the perfect thing to share with a friend: a few bites—and you’re done. No need to feel guilty about this indulgence!

2 cups heavy cream
7 tablespoons (about 31⁄4 ounces) granulated sugar
1⁄2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
4 large egg yolks

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F; position the rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. In a medium saucepot, combine the cream, 2 1⁄2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the vanilla bean seeds and pod, and bring to a lively simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat, cover, and let the mixture infuse for 5 minutes. Remove and discard the vanilla pods.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with 2 1⁄2 tablespoons of the sugar, and place the bowl on a kitchen towel. Slowly, in a thin drizzle, whisk the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture to make a custard. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Divide among 6 (4-ounce) ramekins and set the ramekins in a 9×13-inch roasting pan. Add enough hot water to the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins, and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake the custard for 40 to 45 minutes, or until just set but still loose in the center. Using rubber-tipped tongs (to prevent slippage), carefully remove the ramekins from the pan and let them come to room temperature. Wrap the tops of ramekins with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days before serving.
  4. Remove the crème brûlées from the refrigerator and evenly sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the remaining sugar over the top of each. Using a kitchen torch, melt the sugar until it forms a caramelized top. Allow the crème brûlées to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.