Creme Brulee is similar to the Spanish Version known as Creme Catalan. The difference is that Creme Catalan uses milk instead of creme.
Service for 4
1/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla beans
6 large egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cinnammon stick + 4 whole cinnamon sticks
2 T Turbinado sugar or superfine sugar for crust (or more)
3 T white sugar for crust (or more)
Heat cream to a boil with 1/2 cinnamon stick then turn off heat.
Split and separate the vanilla seeds from beans into 1/4 cup of sugar. Use fingers to blend sugar with vanilla grains . Add sugar mixture to egg yolks and whisk till mixture is smooth and consistent.
Whisk in hot cream into yolk mixture slowly, constantly whisking. Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove all the coarse debris and 1/2 cinnamon stick.
Place 1 cinnamon stick in the bottom of each ramekin. They release flavor during cooking. Divide the creme and egg mixture between 4 ramekins.
Add enough hot water to a roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the ramekins with foil and then bake the custards for about 25-30 minutes (325F), or until barely set. The rule of thumb is when shaken the mixture looks like jello. Remove from the oven. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes, then refrigerate until well chilled. The custards can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. The custard should be cool when caramelizing the sugar.
Before serving remove the ramekins from the refrigerator and lightly pat dry with a paper towel if any moisture is present. Mix turbinado sugar with granular sugar. You can dry out the sugar further in the oven and mix in a food processor to get a finer consistency which will make melting quicker and more even (optional). Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the top of the custards. Shake the ramekins a bit to get an even layer of sugar. Using a hand blow torch heat the sugar until it starts to caramelize and bubble. Do not allow to burn. Let cool, then repeat for a second layer. Two layers will give a nice crispy coating. Let cool a few minutes before serving for sugar to harden.
What is the Best Sugar for Creme Brulee Crust?
It seems the leading two candidates are Turbinado and Superfine sugar.
Turbinado and demerara (raw sugars) are considered natural brown sugar. These are sugars that retain a small to large amount of the molasses from the mother liquor (the partially evaporated sugar cane juice).
Superfine or Caster (or castor (0.35 mm) is a very fine sugar , so-named because the grains are small enough to fit through a castor, a form of sieve. Because of its fineness it dissolves more quickly than regular white sugar and is thus especially useful in meringues and cold liquids. Castor sugar can be prepared at home by grinding granulated sugar for a couple of minutes in a food processor.
We find that superfine gives a better crust than Turbinado since the finer grains will caramelize quicker and more even.