Miami Herald

Family-style Crème Brûlée


Serves 4 to 6.

Is there anything more satisfying than cracking through the crunchy caramel crust of a crème brûlée with the tip of your spoon? Which is why it’s the perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day. The rich, silky-smooth custard whisks together in minutes, and you don’t need a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar topping — your oven broiler will also get the job done.

This recipe is made in a single pan instead of individual ramekins for a shareable, family-sized dessert.

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla-bean paste and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoon­s to finish 3 large egg yolks

1 large (whole) egg 1 tablespoon rum, Grand Marnier or brandy (optional)

2 cups heavy cream Heaped teaspoon kosher


Heat oven to 325 degrees. Place a small dish towel or washcloth in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch or larger baking dish (this will keep the custard in place while it cooks). Place a 1-quart shallow baking dish on top of the towel. Bring a pot of water to boil.

Make custard: If using fresh vanilla bean, rub seeds into the cup granulated sugar to infuse it with the most possible flavor.

Whisk the yolks, whole egg and ⁄ cup sugar until very smooth and evenly combined. Add vanilla paste, and vanilla extract and rum, if using, then slowly, slowly drizzle in the cream, whisking the whole time. For a perfect texture, pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, ideally one with a spout.

Pour the egg mixture into the smaller baking dish placed on top of the towel. Carefully pour in enough boiling water into the larger dish so that it reaches of the height of your interior dish. Bake until the custard is just barely set and no longer jiggly in the center, about 35-45 minutes. (The custard will be 170-175 degrees; mine took 45 minutes to fully bake.)

Remove custard from the water, and cool on a rack to room temperatur­e, 2-3 hours, then chill completely, covered, for 4 hours or up to 4 days. (This will prevent it from becoming soupy.)

Shortly before serving, spread the surface evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoon­s sugar. Use a kitchen blowtorch to melt the sugar into a crispy bronzed top. (Alternativ­ely, place the crème brûlée on a sheet pan and stick it under the broiler for 5-10 minutes, until sugar is completely melted and forms a caramelize­d sheet of sugar on top.)

Return crème brûlée to fridge one more time, just to take away the warmth from the blowtorch or broiler, for about 15 minutes — any longer and the crunchy caramelize­d sugar on top will dissolve.

Serve family-style, with multiple spoons, or dish into small bowls for individual servings.

— “Smitten Kitchen Keepers: New Classics for Your Favorite Forever Files” by Deb Perelman (Knopf, $35)

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