A Southern Grace: fine dining at home

September 5, 2018

fine dining at home


Mexican vanilla crème brûlée. My husband and I used to go out to eat quite a bit, but that has slowed stopped since Eva came along. I don't miss it as much as I would've expected.

It helps that I'm a pretty good cook (all modesty aside, obviously). However, I don't even try to make fancy dishes, unless you count scallops.

I received some Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract from Nielsen-Massey to review, and immediately decided it was deserving of something elegant. I chose crème brûlée, a dish I've eaten only a handful of times, and always at nice restaurants. As it turns out, it's not that hard to make, as long as you have Alton Brown guiding you.

This is a very rich, super creamy dessert that makes a great vehicle for fine vanilla extract. I got a kitchen torch a few years ago and can count on one hand the number of times I've used it, so I was excited to break it out for this! It produced a top that absolutely shattered when hit with a spoon, and the air in my kitchen smelled of caramelized sugar for the rest of the night and into the next day!

Use your best vanilla when you make a crème brûlée--it's the only thing flavoring it so you want it to be strong and pleasant! Nielsen-Massey describes their Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract better than I ever could: "A rich marriage of sweet and woody notes, the Mexican vanilla flavor profile has a deep, creamy, spicy-sweet character, similar to clove or nutmeg." It was delightful in this dessert and I can't wait to try it other dishes!

Crema Quemada
(Based on this recipe)
(printable recipe)
Serves 4
Ingredients: Directions:
Place the cream into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and heat until a film forms on the top of the cream.
Remove from the heat, add the vanilla extract, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and starting to lighten in color.
Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually.
Pour the liquid into 4 6-ounce ramekins or similar.
Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan and pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the center, anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes, depending on the depth of your ramekins.
Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and let cool for 5 minutes or so, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
To prepare, remove the creme brulee from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top.
Divide the remaining 1/4 cup sugar equally among the 4 dishes and spread evenly on top.
Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.


Amy (Savory Moments) said...

Oh yum -- this looks perfect!! We don't go out to eat much these days either haha. We don't miss it much either though!

Pam said...

It looks great, Grace! We don't go out for dinner much anymore either, esp since it's a short grilling season here. That Mexican Vanilla is great. I have used that vanilla and know it is good, now I need to go to Amazon for more after seeing this. And then I need a kitchen torch, I know Julia Child said every kitchen needs one!

Gloria Baker said...

wonderful and sure delicious ! I love cream brulee!!

Marjie said...

Creme Brulee is something I"ve never tried making, either. Thank heavens you had Alton Brown around to help out! Vanilla has gotten so expensive of late, so I haven't been using it much, but I do love it.

Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen said...

This looks positively dreamy! Who could ever turn down delicious creme brûlée? I definitely could not!

Natalie @ Obsessive Cooking Disorder said...

This looks amazing - idk if we'll stop going out when we have kids one day... maybe more take out!

Angie Schneider said...

Creamy, rich...this looks heavenly! Nielsen Massey is my favourite :-)

Pam said...

My very favorite dessert - at home or in a restaurant.

One of my best tricks for successful restaurant experiences when we were with our kids is, I had a bag that was kept in my car that had special little toys, small books, arts & crafts, etc., that they only got to see at restaurants. They always kept busy & entertained and it also gave us the freedom to join the world again and have some adult conversation. I changed the bag out every so often so they wouldn't get bored of the stuff & they always loved it.

grace said...

@Pam: That's a great suggestion--THANK YOU! Distraction is definitely key with this one. :)

Marcelle said...

I love creme brulee, but I have never made it at home! Thank you for posting this recipe, Grace! Now that our babies are getting so big, we are getting out to eat as a family more and more. Date nights still basically never happen though as we have no baby sitter ever. It does help to stave off dinnertime boredom to be a decent cook :)

Food Gal said...

A classic dessert that never goes out of style. Whenever I think of it, I always remember that scene from the film, "Amelie,'' and the giddiness she expresses for all of us when we tap our spoon into that beautiful crackly sugar crust. ;)

Adina said...

Creme brulee is probably my favorite dessert, I usually make it at Christmas as it ends a meal in such a nice way, the portions are small, it can be made in advance and "burned" just before serving and it tastes absolutely amazing. Seeing your pictures make me crave for it again.

Toaster Oven Love said...

I love creme brulee but have never made it at home, I'm kind of awful with custard-based dishes but you've got me excited to try especially since I've owned a never-used kitchen torch for years! And pretty good doesn't come close to describing your cooking Grace, I'm always so inspired by your creative recipes and mouthwatering dessert pics, Eva probably wouldn't even like restaurant food compared to what her mama cooks :)

Georgie Mullen said...

Creme brulee is my NUMBER 1 dessert. I LOVE it. Actually I just love anything custard based really. I will for sure be trying this one out!

Katerina Delidimou said...

That caramelized top is all the money!

Inger@Art of Natural Living said...

I love when Nielsen-Massey sends me something -- it always means we're going to have a great new dessert! And I finally bought myself a creme brulee torch. Next batch won't have to go under the broiler!

All That I'm Eating said...

Oh my favourite! This sounds so delicious, what a treat!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Love a classic creme brulee! :D I wouldn't mind staying in if I had this.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Love a classic creme brulee! :D I wouldn't mind staying in if I had this.

Sandy Waddle said...

Omigosh that sounds like a fabulous treat! I have a big bottle of Mexican vanilla and recently bought a kitchen torch for searing/finishing stiff from the sous vide. You always inspire me!