The traditional recipe for crème brûlée, made with double cream, is rich
and delicious. This recipe tastes just as good but is much lighter. This dish
can be prepared 3 or 4 hours in advance.
4 ramekins 10cm (4in) in diameter, or 2 white china egg dishes
1 vanilla pod
300ml (½ pint) milk
4 egg yolks
40g (1½oz) caster sugar
40g (1½oz) demerara sugar
With a small sharp knife, split the vanilla pod lengthways.
With the back of the blade, scrape off all the seeds inside the pod.
Chop the pod finely. Bring the milk to the boil in a pan with the
vanilla seeds and chopped pod, then cook at a gentle simmer for a
further 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
In a mixing bowl,whisk together the egg yolks and caster
sugar until a pale straw colour. Pour the hot milk onto the egg yolk
mixture. Mix well, then strain the milk and egg yolk mixture through
a fine sieve into a clean pan, pressing on the vanilla pods and seeds
to extract as much flavour as possible. Spoon off any foam from the
surface and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 140°C/275°F/gas 1. Pour equal
quantities of the mixture into the ramekins or egg dishes. Line a
deep roasting tin or dish just large enough to hold the ramekins
with kitchen paper. Place the filled ramekins into this, on top of the
paper. (Placing kitchen paper under the ramekins during cooking
will serve as a form of insulation against the strong heat from the
oven and prevent them from overcooking.) Add enough boiling
water to the tin or dish to reach three-quarters of the height of the
ramekins. Transfer the tin to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes
until the mixture has just set.When the mixture has set, remove each
ramekin fromthewater and leave to cool downat roomtemperature.
When cold, chill for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the grill to very hot. Sprinkle the demerara sugar
over the top of each cream, and caramelise under the hot grill for
2–3 minutes according to its strength. Leave to cool and set into a
delightful layer of crisp caramel. When set, place the ramekins on
serving plates and serve.