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Spiced Crème Brûlée

yield: 8 (5-ounce) ramekins
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Special Equipment

  • a culinary chef's torch

Ingredients

For the Spiced Custard

  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided into two equal half portions (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 (whole) star anise
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

For the Brûlée Topping

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 300 (F). Bring a kettle or pot of water to a boil, and place eight 5-ounce ramekins in a large roasting pan.
  • In a large, heatproof mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 7 large egg yolks, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves. Set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine 4 cups heavy cream and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (half of the ingredient portion) granulated sugar, whisking together. Heat over medium until the mixture starts to bubble around the edges of the pan, around 7 to 8 minutes. Be careful not to let the mixture boil — you just want it to come to a very hot but gentle simmer.
  • Once the cream mixture is steaming gently, remove it from heat. Temper the eggs by using a ladle to pour a small amount of the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking the egg mixture continuously. Add two more ladles of cream mixture, one at a time, while continuing to whisk the egg mixture. Gradually whisk in the remaining cream mixture, before straining through a fine mesh sieve into a large liquid measuring cup.
  • Divide the custard evenly amongst the 8 ramekins. Place pan in the oven, before adding enough boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the custards are just set (they should be set in the sides of the ramekin, but jiggle in the center), around 30 to 40 minutes. Once the custards are set, use tongs to carefully remove dishes from their hot water bath and allowing to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, before covering with plastic wrap and chilling overnight to finish setting in the refrigerator.
  • To serve, sprinkle about 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar over each custard. Pass the flame of a chef’s torch in a circular motion 1 to 2 inches above the surface of each ramekin until the sugar bubbles, turns amber, and forms a smooth surface. Let rest for one minute, before serving immediately.