Maybe, just maybe if you ever thought this Bengali could not do any French cuisine, I am going to dispel that stereotype today. Like the French, we Bengalis think, talk and eat a lot of food. Like the French, food is a ritual for us, an art. And when I say food is an establishment for both the Bengalis and the French, I am not in the least bit exaggerating.
My knowledge of the French language starts and ends with oui, and maybe an occasional bonjour and merci since I have moved to Canada. And my initiation to gourmet French cooking is only as recent as last year -- thanks to the double dose of Julie and Julia and French Food At Home hosted by Laura Calder. I love watching her on Food Network every morning. Even more, I love her kitchen and her chic wrap around dresses! Okay, I have a vague feeling I am digressing. So I will move back to my attempt of making Crème Brûlée (French for “burnt cream”), an easy French dessert I once saw Laura Calder make. Her recipe had sugar, I have substituted it with maple syrup. Which we find here in abundance.
I started by having all the ingredients and measurements for the Maple Crème Brûlée (pronounced krehm broo-lay) right -
2 cups of heavy cream
Half cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
2 egg yolks
Start by heating the heavy cream and maple syrup in a saucepan. I stopped just before boiling and removed from the heat. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks, eggs and the vanilla extract. Slowly start adding the cream-syrup mixture, stirring continuously. Adding little by little of the hot cream mixture is the way to go since we do not want to scramble the eggs.
Transfer the mixture onto individual ramekins (or custard cups) – I used all four for this quantity of cream and eggs. Place the ramekins in a baking dish and pour enough water to reach halfway of the ramekins. Water baths are mainly used for baking, as this technique helps to cook evenly and prevents cracking.
Preheat oven to 350°F and bake till the liquid mixture sets around the edges but jiggly at the center. This should take about 40-45 minutes.
I cooled them to a room temperature (in the same water bath), and then chilled them.
Just before serving, I sprinkled them with some sugar (plain white) and put them in the broiler for about two minutes or less to melt all that sugar. But do keep an eye on it, don't leave it in. Else you might just end up getting a crisp, charcoal topping on your crème. The broiler worked for me since I do not have a blowtorch. This way I got the creamy custard base and the top crust of caramel.
Elegant and easy. Looks like I will just go ahead and pat my back when no one is looking!
Bon Appétit. Just the way Julia “Meryl” Child says it!