Crème Brûlée

Makes 4-5 small servings. Recipe is provided by Corinne Cook, who says, “This recipe was handwritten in my mother’s recipe box so I’m not sure where it came from. Like most of her copied recipes, this one had few instructions so I had to elaborate on that.”

6 eggs, yolks and whites separated

2 cups whipping cream

1?3 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract or ½ vanilla bean if available (seeds only)

Hot or boiling water for water bath

Additional sugar for melting on top (about 1-2 tsps. per ramekin)

Garnish each plate with fresh fruit if desired (blueberries, strawberries or raspberries)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Select ramekins, or ovenproof custard cups, and a baking pan that will hold 4 ramekins and set them aside. For small round ramekins an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking pan will be fine; larger flat ramekins will require a larger pan.

2. Separate eggs and place yolks in small bowl (egg whites are not used in this recipe but can be used for omelets or making meringue cookies). Lightly beat egg yolks with a fork to combine. You do not want to whip big bubbles into the eggs or the cream.

3. In medium-large bowl, stir the cream, sugar and vanilla together until the sugar is dissolved.

4. Add the lightly beaten egg yolks and whisk until well blended. I then pour the mixture into a pitcher with a spout because it’s easier to pour into the ramekins.

5. Carefully place pan with ramekins in oven and pour very hot or boiling water into the pan holding the filled ramekins. The water should come about halfway up the side of the ramekins.

6. Bake 30-35 minutes or until top just begins to get light brown. The sides will look “set” but the center may look soft or jiggly.

7. Remove carefully from oven and let everything cool slightly before you remove ramekins from hot water. You can use tongs with a dish towel or potholder to carefully place ramekins on rack to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate, at least 3-4 hours before caramelizing sugar over the top.

8. Using torch: Sprinkle 1 or 2 teaspoonfuls of sugar on top of each custard. You want to have a very thin layer of sugar. Using a lit kitchen torch, about 2-3 inches from sugar, move flame continuously over the top until sugar melts and is caramelized. Set aside to cool before serving.

9. Broiler: Move oven rack to highest position (nearest broiler). Preheat oven to broil. Top each custard with about a teaspoonful of sugar; shake to distribute sugar evenly over the top. Place cold custards in pan, and I add ice cold water about ½-inch deep in pan. Broil until sugar caramelizes over the custard. Remove carefully from oven. Using tongs, with help of potholder or towel, remove ramekins from water onto rack. Cool about 15-20 minutes before serving.