This is the final post of the series! In our last post, we shared sous vide chicken breast. Today’s dish is an appropriate last course: Sous Vide Crème Brûlée. Find all about cute little mason jars, using sous vide for custards, and my thoughts on my project by reading on!
started this 10 days of Sous Vide project a little over two months ago when, passing by a meat sale in my grocery store, I thought it would be fun to try cooking meats at different temperatures and different seasonings. There were some failures, redundancies, and a few dishes got scrapped, never making it to the series. Later, I decided the series needed some variety to be interesting so I added some vegetables, sauces, and finally–this sous vide crème brûlée. Crème brûlée has always been a favorite dessert of mine. A few years back, a friend taught me how to cook it at home. She gave me one caveat, however, before she started the lesson: I was never to reveal how easy it actually is to prepare. However, in retrospect, I realize that I cannot ethically keep this to myself. It’s even easier when prepared via sous vide.
Reflecting on the series
This was a challenging project. The commitment of 10 posts on sous vide, all of which I had promised an alternative cooking instruction, meant a lot of planning and cooking. I was certainly more ambitious than was realistic. Thus, the written content of the posts got shorter and shorter. In our personal lives, we suffered a loss of a family member and my work schedule blew up. School ended up also becoming a burden. The project kept getting delayed while we dealt with our personal responsibilities. I finally told the fiancé that it was time to start posting and got to it. As I mentioned before, a few of the planned posts got scrapped because I couldn’t find a good alternative cooking method, the protein was redundant, or they simply weren’t good.
Our first post, chicken char sui, proved to be the hardest to photograph next to our hollandaise post. The chicken char sui just didn’t want to plate the way I envisioned, while the hollandaise proved too difficult for our camera to focus on the light-colored sauce. These posts stretched my limited camera skills to the limit and so I ended up calling upon the fiancé to help. I think our food photography grew from this challenge and I’m really pleased with the results. The carrots and short ribs were by far my favorites, aesthetics-wise.
Learning how to accept mistakes
Making mistakes is natural and human. One of the problems with passion is that there is a very fine line between passion and obsession. I cross that line all the way to obsession. In fact, I can’t see the line anymore from where I stand. This kind of emphasis often causes me to get so obsessed over details that I completely fail to accept any mistakes at all. Oftentimes, that means I fail to complete (or start) a project. I’ve had to learn to change that lately so that I can realize my passions more fully. I had hoped to post an incredible series, with step-by-step photos and detailed science. I envisioned inspiring quotes and really pushing my writing skills to the limit. I fell short of that expectation, but I did accomplish a good, healthy time management schedule.
Most importantly, I’ve learned not to aim my blowtorch too close to my chilled new crème brûlée jars or else they will burst. All over. With shards of glass all over my friends’ porch, causing anxiety as we try to clean it so that it’s safe for little, kid feet. We learned a lesson.
This is way too close. The jar burst–LOUDLY–seconds later.
Ideal distance for blow-torching
Sous Vide Crème Brûlée
Crème brûlée is such a simple dessert involving few ingredients. It begs for experimentation–add vanilla, bourbon, coffee, or chocolate–so it’s never dull. Like all French dishes, however, it requires that you obey certain rules about technique. Why would you cook it sous vide? No, it’s not just to show off, but sous vide actually helps ensure that you don’t curdle your perfect crème brûlée. It does require that you use a mason jar as your vacuum. If you try to attempt this with a plastic bag, the crème brûlée just won’t set. I added lavender and omitted vanilla extract in this recipe, which made for a unique flavor. You can certainly add the extract to the recipe if you prefer. I’ve seen some interesting crème brûlée recipes with other extracts, as well. Orange extract infused crème brûlée, anyone?