Eggnog is one of my favorite holiday flavors. I put it in my coffee, cocktails, icebox cakes and now I’ve turned it into a deliciously Christmas-y creme brulee.
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Creme Brulee sounds super fancy and slightly intimidating but it’s actually pretty simple once you get the basics down. I’ve made plain vanilla creme brulee and a Pumpkin Chai Creme Brulee that could shame any pumpkin pie but this time I wanted to get my custard into the Christmas spirit.
Creme brulee starts with a base of heavy cream and flavoring that is heated. It’s slowly combined with egg yolks and sugar and them cooked in a water bath.
After the custard is cooled it’s placed in the freezer to really chill and then a thin layer of sugar is spread on top. Using a kitchen torch the sugar is melted (caramelized) to give it a hard shell.
Breaking through the hard caramelized sugar is what sets the creme brulee apart from any other dessert. And the creamy cool custard isn’t anything to ignore either.
There are two main techniques you’ll need to to pull off this recipe. Tempering and a water bath. Neither are that confusing but I’m going to break them down to make things a little easier to follow.
You cannot dump hot cream (or eggnog in this case) into your egg yolks or you will cook them. The solution to this is called ‘tempering’.
Slowly pour a small amount of the hot cream into the egg yolk/sugar mixture while constantly whisking. After you’ve added about half of the hot cream you can go a little faster.
When everything is combined it doesn’t hurt to run the whole thing through a fine mesh sieve. It will catch any clumps of undissolved sugar and any bits of cooked yolk.
Creme brulee needs to be cooked in a water bath. The water bath keeps the temperature even and adds moisture to the air in the oven keeping the custard from cracking.
I set up my water bath by placing a towel or wash cloth in the bottom of an oven safe dish and then adding the ramekins. After filling the ramekins I pull out the wrack in the oven and place the casserole dish on the oven wrack.
Then I add the water. It’s way safer than trying the maneuver a casserole dish filled with boiling water and you aren’t as likely to get water in your custard.
For best results you need to use hot water for the water bath, an electric kettle is perfect for this or you can start heating water up in the stove when you’re heating up the eggnog.
- 2 Cups Eggnog (I used Hood Golden Eggnog)
- Gentle Sprinkle of Nutmeg
- 5 Egg Yolks
- 1/2 Cup Dixie Crystals Granulated White Sugar plus extra for tops
- Preheat oven to 325
- Set four 7-8 oz ramekins in a casserole dish lined with a wash cloth or towel
- Heat eggnog and nutmeg over medium heat until bubbles appear around the edge and it begins to steam
- Whisk together egg yolks and sugar until smooth
- Temper egg yolks by slowly adding a small amount of the hot eggnog while whisking
- Add the rest of the hot eggnog and whisk until uniform
- Pass the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any cooked bits of egg yolk or clumps of undissolved sugar
- Skim off the foam and split between the ramekins
- Place the casserole dish on the oven rack and add boiling water 1/2 way up the sides of the ramekins
- Bake 30-40 minutes, the center should still be slightly jiggly
- Cool on a wire rack and them transfer to the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight
- Place creme brulee in the freezer for 45 minutes before serving
- Remove the custards from the freezer, add a tablespoon of sugar to the top and tilt the ramekin to get the sugar over the entire surface, dump off the excess
- Melt the sugar with a kitchen torch. Allow the sugar to harden before serving
Technically I used the wrong ramekins for creme brulee, you should use wider, more shallow dishes to get a better sugar crust to custard ratio.
I don't make it enough to justify buying special dishes so I use the ramekins I have on hand.
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