Oklahoma Table: Hurray for Made in OK Creme Brulee on Valentine's Day

Creme Brulee can be made with some basic local Oklahoma ingredients. You probably don't realize it, but you may have all the ingredients you need on hand.
BY SHERREL JONES sherrel@justdelish.com Published: February 13, 2013

Creme Brulee just sounds romantic dessert, doesn't it?

Never mind that in English it translates to “burnt cream,” this classic French dessert offers all the decadence you desire in a dessert to complete your Valentine's dinner.

Made with some basic local Oklahoma ingredients, your Valentine's Creme Brulee is even better. You probably don't realize it, but you may have all the ingredients you need on hand.

Haven't had Creme Brulee before? It is a delicate custard gently baked in a hot (not boiling) water bath and topped with a thin layer of crunchy sweet caramelized sugar. You can do it today as it is easy to make and the simple silky smooth custard can chill out overnight in the fridge before you pop its sugar topping under the broiler before serving. Whether you dine out or grill some tender steaks at home, you can have a taste of fabulous creamy caramelized sugar-crusted goodness to celebrate with your special Valentine. I'm hearin' the music already just thinking about Creme Brulee.

Now about those Oklahoma ingredients. If you haven't had locally produced eggs yet, they are worth a trip to the nearest farmers market or specialty food purveyors who carry them. I've bought eggs from the Urban Agrarian Market in Oklahoma City, the OSU-OKC Farmers Market, Native Roots Market, the Farm to Fork Market Bus and Forward Foods.

Why do I like them so much? They are super fresh (often picked the morning you buy them) with beautiful yellow yolks and whites that have a thicker consistency and don't run like water when you crack the egg.

A milk and cream combination or half-and-half from Hiland Dairy or Braum's work very well in Creme Brulee. I must save you from trying fat-free half-and-half — it does not produce Creme Brulee. If you are trying to cut back on fat, reserve this dessert for an indulgence and make the portion smaller.

Share the extra servings with friends or neighbors or make one-third of the recipe.

I've made several varieties of Creme Brulee over the years and enjoyed this dessert in several restaurants across the country and overseas. Some people like to use a stirred custard method. I like the silky-baked version to the sweeter pudding-style base.

Sometimes the sugar crust is caramelized separately on a baking sheet and dropped onto the base. This can be done on a silicone baking mat, nonstick foil or buttered foil, but it is a little tricky to get the sugar to melt to the perfect size of the individual base or to move it in one piece after it cools. You still have to watch it very carefully.

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Made in Oklahoma Valentine's Day Creme Brulee

6 local egg yolks plus one egg (save whites for omelets or meringues.)

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

3 cups Hiland or Braums half-and-half

Sugar topping:

Approximately 1/2 to 2/3 to cup light brown sugar or a combination of brown sugar, Turbinado sugar and sugar.

Heat half-and-half over medium heat but DO NOT BOIL. Stir to keep from scorching. It should be steamy hot. Use a whisk and beat yolks and egg with sugar in a large bowl. Add vanilla or other flavorings blending into the yolk mixture. Gradually temper the yolk-mixture by incorporating small amounts of hot mixture a little at a time. Use a small measuring cup to transfer from hot half-and-half. Repeat several times, whisking while adding hot liquid. Slowly pour remainder of heated liquid into bowl, whisking until well blended.

Use a fine mesh strainer to strain the mixture into a large measuring cup or pitcher with a spout. Pour strained mixture into baking dishes and position them in a larger sturdy pan. A large cake or roasting pan works well. Add hot tap water to fill 2/3 to ¾ of the way up the sides of the ramekins for “Bain-Marie” (lukewarm water-bath).

Place in 350-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes depending on size and depth of baking dishes or ramekins. Cool to room temperature and then place ramekins in refrigerator. Chill 4 to 6 hours or overnight.

Prepare sugar topping. Before broiling, top custards with a tablespoon or more of sugar mixture. Arrange custards on heavy baking sheet. Adjust oven rack. Tops of custards should be about 5 to 8 inches from broiler.

Pay strict attention while broiling until sugar bubbles and browns. Keep brulees in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish with fresh berries.

Variations: Incorporate 3 tablespoons instant coffee granules dissolved in ¼ cup boiling water or zest of an orange or lemon into half and half while heating.

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