Monday, November 12, 2012

Bacon Crème brûlée

Here's a post that I've promised for a week or so. We didn't take pictures of the steps and I'm really feeling bad about that. I did capture this gem of the final product after I took my first bite. Jarrod goes a great job of capturing the steps, even though there aren't pictures. Seriously, this is fantastic.

And here's Jarrod!

I'm a creme brulee fanatic.  At one of our favorite restaurants in Slidell, LA I frequently left in dissapointment if they were out of their ridiculously awesome chocolate creme brulee when it was dessert time.  I judge restaurants by their creme brulee, and I love it so much that Leanne bought me a restaurant-quality cooking torch and a set of ramekins for my birthday last year.  It's a win-win in our house, I make the creme brulee, and she gets to eat it.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a bacon themed party at our house.  Is anything better than bacon?  I don't think so.  It's among my favorite things.  So the idea of bringing bacon and creme brulee together was too awesome to resist.  The result was so delicious that it might be the catalyst we need to finally bring about world peace.

I have a basic vanilla creme brulee recipe that I typically follow and add stuff too (just think about what you like to eat for dessert, and add that to the cream), but for this I reached out to the internet came back with some good ideas from a bacon creme brulee recipe at food.com.  I'm not sure if the legend of this one coming from the mind of Top Chef winner Stephanie Izzard is true, but it was great none-the-less.

Here's how it goes to make 8 servings (I modified some ingredients and steps according to my taste):

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk (I used whole)
1/2 lb bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (I used good quality maple cured and smoke bacon, thick cut)
9 egg yolks
3/4 cup superfine sugar (you can run some regular sugar through a food processor to grind it down)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup

The Steps

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2.  Add bacon to a cold saute pan, render it down and crisp it up.  When it's cooked down blot it on a plate with a paper towel.  Reserve some of the fat!!

3.  Over medium heat, bring to a simmer the cream, milk, bacon, maple syrup, and brown sugar.  Go ahead and add in a teaspoon or so of the bacon fat for good measure.  Let that simmer for a good 15 minutes.  While it's simmering, get the ramekins ready.  Spread them out into large baking dishes.  After the 15 minutes, take the pan off of the heat, strain the bacon out and discard it and let the cream cool down a bit.

4.  Whisk together the egg yolks in a separate bowl with a quarter cup of the superfine sugar.  When the cream has cooled down but is still warm slowly whisk it in to the egg yolks.  This is the crucial step - you do not want to curdle these yolks, then you'll just have funky scrambled eggs.  Take your time, and make sure all of the sugar has dissolved.

5.  Pour the custard mixture into the ramekins, being careful to clean up the edges of the dishes to keep things pretty.  Go ahead and neatly place them on the racks of the oven.  Get yourself a pitcher of water and pour into the baking dishes, about halfway up the sides of the ramekins - careful not to get any water in the custard!  Bake until the custard is set on the sides and a little jiggly in the middle - don't wait until it's brown!  Should take about 30 minutes.  When they're done, move them right to the fridge, being careful not to spill hot water everywhere.  The custards need to cool completely down before being torched.

6.  After the custards have completely cooled (2 hours or so), they're ready for the brulee.  Sprinkle some of the super fine sugar on top of the custards and twist around so it's in an even layer.  Holding a cooking torch 3-4 inches from the sugar, evenly torch the sugar to a nice amber color.  Be careful not to burn the sugar!  A little burning won't ruin your day, but if you aren't careful the sugar can actually catch on fire and that's no bueno.  If you don't have a torch, turn the oven to a high broil and broil the custards, but you must watch them closely.  It won't take two seconds to ruin the creme brulees in an oven and it's not nearly as fun as a torch.  You want to brulee no more than a few minutes before serving.  If you wait to long the sugar will get soggy.

7.  Pass them out and enjoy the creamy, bacony goodness.

If I had to do things any differently, I would probably add 1/2 cup more cream and 1/2 cup more milk.  You'll lose some along the way in the cooking process, and while the serving size we had for our party was great, I wouldn't mind having bigger servings.

Creme brulees are an awesome dessert to serve for a party, but as they're super time-consuming I usually make the custards a day ahead.

While it might sound funny to have a bacon-flavored dessert, I assure you it's amazing.  And I'm convinced that this recipe will actually make the world a better place.

What the world needs now is more bacon,
JJ
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