By: Laura Hansen

“Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.”
Craig Claiborne, Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

If you want to spend just a little time with that special someone in the kitchen on Valentines Day (or any other day for that matter), consider whipping up some crème brulee. It’s one of life’s perfect foods for many reasons. Can you think of any circumstance where you’ve tasted crème brulee and started to frown? I am always speechless when the creamy inside and crusty sugar meet my mouth!

The first time I experienced crème brulee was on a Holland America cruise ship. With much pageantry, a large cluster of white coated waiters descended from the kitchen and placed the dessert gift in front of us. That first experience is still vivid. I asked our waiter if I could have a second, and he dutifully obliged. Why is crème brule the PERFECT dish to make with your main squeeze? Well, of course, aside from the taste, it’s the blow torch. Although your special man hopefully will participate in all aspects of whipping up the dish, firing up that blow torch and seeing that raw sugar bubble and melt takes one back to being in the chemistry lab. I am sending along two options. The Expresso Crème Brulee should keep the two of you awake for a night of passion. The chocolate offering just adds the right amount of decadence to make the evening even more special………….

Espresso Crème Brûlée   From Debra Fioritto Weber,
Recipe courtesy of: French Food Creme Brulee

•1 cup whole espresso coffee beans
•1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
•3 Tablespoons sugar, divided
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•pinch of salt
•4 large egg yolks
 •1/4 cup sugar, divided

CHOCOLATE CRÈME BRULEE    Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

1 quart heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1- ounce chocolate liqueur (recommended: Godiva Liqueur)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 ounces cocoa powder
1-ounce unsweetened chocolate
11 large egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat, add the heavy cream, sugar, liqueur, and vanilla. When the mixture is warm add the cocoa powder and chocolate and whisk until blended.

Place the egg yolks in a large stainless steel bowl.

Slowly add the warm chocolate mixture to the eggs a little at a time while whisking. Strain and pour into individual porcelain ramekins.

Place the ramekins in a large baking pan.

Pour enough hot water into the pan to come half way up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake until firm in the center, about 30 minutes.

Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool completely.

Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Dust with sugar and caramelize with a propane torch. Serve immediately.

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