Creme Brulee for Two
I think it’s pretty cool that our friend Chef James Park agreed to collaborate with us in a video and provide his scrumptious recipe for Creme Brulee. He’s used to making this in a professional kitchen setting only, but was nice enough to cut down the recipe so that it would be appropriate for two people…just in time for Valentine’s Day!
We first had a taste of James’s version of this magical dessert when he made it for a special dinner. And with spoon still in hand, I pretty much peer pressured him into coming onto our show and sharing his secrets with us!
His version is a fancy Orange Creme Brulee with Ginger Whipped Cream and Candied Orange Peel. But you know me, I’m always trying to cut corners, so I asked if there was a way to make it more approachable.
Well, the good news is that the garnish is completely optional. So if you’re pressed for time or just don’t feel like simmering an orange peel for 30 minutes, then you can totally skip the toppings and still end up with an amazing dessert. It doesn’t really affect the taste. But if you want to impress that special date on Valentine’s Day, it might be worth busting out all the moves.
It really does look impressive, but you only need 6 ingredients for everything, and you can even make this a day in advance! This is a more intermediate recipe because the steps are precise and you have to be exact. But don’t worry because you can watch how we break it down and guide you through it in EPISODE 10 of Bits & Pieces Season 2 below:
WATCH EPISODE 10 BELOW:
The touch of the orange zest in the custard is what I think makes this decadent dessert taste somewhat light and elegant. I noticed this the very first time he made this for us. I could smell the zest right away and I knew it was a little different. But it’s still creamy and dreamy, with everything you’d want in a traditional Creme Brulee.
I also appreciate the fact that his caramelized sugar topping is light, brittle, and crackly, not thick and crunchy. The first time I tested it, I made the mistake of adding too much sugar on top, and when I went to crack it, the whole thing sunk down into the cream like the Titanic! So yeah don’t do that because it doesn’t need it. So in the wise words of Taylor Swift, just grab the excess sugar on top and “shake it off… shake it off.”
If you don’t have a kitchen torch, this is the one James uses in case you’re interested: BonJour Brulee Torch
I cannot emphasize enough that you shouldn’t go rogue when following this recipe. You know me, I’m all about “do whatever you want” when it comes to most of my recipes, but this one is like a science. It was developed carefully and thoughtfully so if you want to achieve the same results, follow what you see in the video and listen to James when he shares his tips.
But don’t let my overly cautious warnings scare you. It’s still relatively easy to make… easier than I thought actually. So if you’re looking for something sweet to make for someone special, try out this Creme Brulee for Two. And If you’re single… after your date takes one bite, you won’t be single for long! 😉
- 4 egg yolks
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¾ teaspoon orange zest (from about ½ an orange)
- 1 tablespoon sugar, divided, for topping
- Candied Orange Peels and Ginger Whipped Cream (Recipes follow)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Put a pot or kettle of boiling water on the stove.
- With a whisk, lightly beat egg yolks and ⅓ cup sugar in a medium bowl by hand just until combined. Do not use an electric mixer, and do not overbeat or your mixture can break. Bring cream and orange zest to a low simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, but do not let it boil. Let it simmer on a very low heat for about 10 minutes to allow the zest to infuse the cream. Gradually stream it into the yolk sugar mixture, while making sure to continually and gently whisk so the yolks do not curdle. Mix just until fully combined and smooth. Do not over-beat, or the mixture will get frothy. Strain it through a fine sieve to catch the zest and to make sure there are no pieces of curdled egg. Evenly divide the custard mixture into two 7-ounce ramekins, making sure not to fill them completely.
- Place the ramekins in a baking dish and carefully pour boiling water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Do not let the water slosh into the ramekins. Bake for about 30 minutes, or just until the custards are set, but slightly wiggly in the center when gently shaken. It will set more as it cools. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool completely at room temperature, about 45 minutes, then refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours, or up to overnight. Cover with plastic wrap if refrigerating overnight.
- To serve, spread ½ tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin, then move the ramekin around to make sure the sugar coats the entire surface area. Dump out the excess, so you’re just left with a thin layer of sugar. Heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar caramelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute or two until the caramelized sugar hardens. When it’s cool to the touch, top with a dollop of ginger whipped cream and a strip of candied orange zest.
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
- With an electric hand mixer, place all ingredients into a medium bowl and whip just until medium stiff peaks form. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- ½ of an orange peel (the side that hasn't been zested)
- Simple syrup made from 1 cup sugar and ½ cup water
- ¼ cup sugar for coating
- Cut the top and bottom off of an orange and remove the peel by following the curves of the orange with your knife. Remove as much of the white pith on the pieces of peel as possible. Cut the pieces into very thin long strips.
- Put strips in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil on high heat, and cook for about 2 minutes. Drain the water. Repeat this process two more times. This will remove the bitterness of the peels.
- In the same empty pan, whisk 1 cup of sugar and ½ cup of warm water together. Bring to a simmer (do not let it come to a boil), and let it cook for about 5 minutes on a constant low simmer, without touching it. Add the peels but do not stir them. Cook for about 25-30 minutes on a very low constant simmer without stirring them, or the mixture will crystallize. Do not let the syrup get too thick, or the peels will get too hard when they cool. When the peels look translucent and glass-like, all the way through, they’re done.
- Fish the peels out from the saucepan and spread out on a cooling rack over a tray until cool. Then toss the peels in the ¼ cup of sugar, making sure to coat each piece so they remain separate. Set aside on a plate for another 2 hours to make sure they are fully dry. Store extras in a resealable bag or an airtight container at room temperature.