“Crème brûlée? What’s that?”
That was the simple question I asked my friend when she informed me that we were going to make crème brûlée one night. We were nearing our twenties, and my idea of dessert was still cookies, cake, or a candy bar. You know, the usual “SAD” stuff. In my foodie innocence, I had never heard of crème brulee.
“It’s a custard. And you get to use a torch at the end! It’s my dad’s favorite!”
It was obvious that my friend was really excited to make this amazingly fancy-shmancy dessert. Custard? Fire? I wasn’t too excited, to be honest. I would have much rather made some delicious cookies and stuffed myself silly than attempt to make some sort of custard dessert… especially since our odds of burning down the house were pretty high. (Teenagers and torches should not be allowed. I don’t care how teeny-tiny and “cute” the torch is.)
It’s funny how things change.
As I’ve made a switch to real food, I’ve noticed a huge change in my tastes. For all those people who swear that they hate any particular food, I say “give it time…. and lots of tries.” When you put good food in your body, eventually it starts to taste good. And subsequently, artificial food takes on a new life as well. (Not to say that I don’t occasionally crave bad things… but I definitely feel the difference in my body, making me want it less.)
This is definitely true in terms of my tastes for desserts. I’ve always been a fan of baking and baked goods. I’d take a warm cookie over a candy bar any day. But I’d still want the candy bar. Now? Well, I don’t think I’ve had a piece of candy in over a year… probably only a random piece or two in the past two years. I just don’t want it any more.
I want real food.
I still like to indulge every now and then. After all, food shouldn’t be some sort of rigid punishment or cause for crazy-induced-nazi-controlled militarism. Food has always brought people together, and we should definitely enjoy our food.
Enter crème brûlée.
Ah, how the times have changed. My favorite (seriously I LOVE THIS STORE) local Real Foods Market makes an awesome crème brûlée. It’s made from delicious raw cream (that you could easily skim off of their yummy raw milk), their very own pastured eggs, some pure maple syrup, a pinch of their real salt and some vanilla. Simple. Real. And so yummy.
Not too long ago they gave out their recipe on their facebook page. (How nice, right?) This recipe is adapted from theirs, with just a few subtle changes. It’s so easy. It’s so delicious. Make it for your friends. They will be amazed at your fancy-schmany crème brûlée skills.
Better yet… make it for yourself. Eat it all. I won’t tell.
Why choose crème brûlée over that candy bar?
The few, simple, real ingredients that are in this recipe are far superior to the lengthy, unknown, fake ingredients in your typical candy bar. Egg yolks from pastured hens are deeply nutrient-dense. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and E as well as choline. And for all you baby-hopin’ ladies, consider this:
Choline is of particular importance to the preconception and pregnancy diet as requirements for the developing nervous system. Most pregnant and lactating women are not consuming adequate choline for their developing babies and researchers are calling for increased consumption of choline-rich foods among pregnant and lactating women. Choline is particularly critical in tooth development as well as brain development. Indeed, a mother’s intake of choline during pregnancy may improve the capability for memory in her child. Beyond an essential role in brain development and the capacity for memory, promising studies found that maternal intake of choline might significantly decrease cognitive dysfunction seen in Downs Syndrome, at least in mice. (via Nourished Kitchen – click to view sources)
Fresh raw cream is a living food containing beneficial bacteria and enzymes which are otherwise destroyed during pasteurization. These enzymes aid in digestion of macronutrients and allow for better absorption of micronutrients. The beneficial bacteria promotes intenstinal health and a well-functioning immune system.
Yes, this dessert has a lot of fat in it. But I’m not afraid of fat. In fact, I think fat (good, real fat) is essential to good health. Of course, I’d still eat this in moderation because of the sugar (even though the pure maple syrup and organic cane sugar are better than the processed white sugar). But this crème brûlée beats a candy bar any day.
2 cups cream (preferably raw)
6 egg yolks (preferably pastured. Read more about the different kinds of eggs here.)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
a pinch of real salt
Sugar for topping (preferably Pure Organic Whole Cane Sugar)*
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. (Don’t whisk it!)
- Strain custard mixture through a fine sieve
- Pour into ramekins (depending on the size of ramekins it will probably fill 4 – 6. I usually get 5.)
- Place ramekins into a 9 x 13″ glass baking dish. Fill baking dish with water so that it comes half way up the side of the ramekins.
- Bake for 1 hour at 300 degrees, or until set. Let them cool at room temperature for 10 – 20 minutes and then transfer into the fridge. Chill for 2 hours – 3 days (as if they’ll last that long!)
- Just before serving, sprinkle 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of sugar on top of the creme brulee and use a kitchen torch (or its likeness) to gently carmelize the sugar (you could also try putting it under the broiler, but watch it carefully!). Let it sit for five minutes before serving. (If using the whole sugar cane crystals, try grinding them up before adding on top.)
*A note about the sugar on top:
What is the difference between “normal” sugar and Pure Organic Whole Cane Sugar? Whole cane sugar, or Rapadura, is an unrefined sugar prized for its unique caramel flavor and fine grain texture. This deliciously pure sugar retains a beautiful golden color and offers unmatched nutritional value because – unlike other sugars – it is not separated from the molasses stream during squeeze-dried processing. This means there is some good stuff in there, like minerals. Awesome, right?
This sugar, because of it’s size, tends to burn more than caramelize when using a torch. I have found that putting the sugar in a bowl and then using the bottom of a cup to grind it up into a finer size makes it work wonderfully!
Of course you could always skip the “brûlée” part (crème brûlée means “burnt cream”) and just eat the custard. It’s delicious by itself, too.