Crème brûlée

This dessert is easier to make than it looks.
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Photo by Stacy Feyer-Salo

Leo’s pastry chef Dana Wilmer-Lucas promises making crème brûlée is “actually quite easy” — and sure to impress guests. The French dessert, meaning “burnt cream,” only requires a few high-quality ingredients to create. Wilmer-Lucas suggests splurging on vanilla bean paste, allowing the dish to sit in the fridge overnight, and serving it with fresh berries.

Try it at home:
1 quart heavy cream
1½ cups sugar
1½ cups egg yolks
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the custard base, mix the egg yolks, sugar and pinch of salt together on low speed until combined in an electric mixing bowl with a paddle attachment.

Next, bring the cream to a scald in a small saucepan over medium heat, just under a boil. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the hot cream to the egg mixture. Then add the vanilla bean paste or extract. Pour into 6-to-8-ounce ramekins until almost full.

Place ramekins in a baking pan and carefully add hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover pan with foil and poke two holes in the corner to let out steam.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the custards are set. They should gently jiggle when shaken. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and cool at room temperature, then refrigerate until they are firm.

To serve, sprinkle one tablespoon of sugar evenly over the top of each custard and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar is caramelized. Another way to caramelize the sugar is to boil it for a few minutes. Watch carefully to make sure the caramel doesn’t burn.

Finally, allow the custard to sit at room temperature for a few minutes until the caramelized sugar hardens.

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