Recipes, Sous-Vide

10 Days of Sous Vide: Reflections and Sous Vide Crème Brûlée (Final Day!)

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!

I 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.

This is way too close. The jar burst–LOUDLY–seconds later.

Ideal distance for blowtorching

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?

Creme Brulee-10

Print Recipe
Lavender-Infused Crème Brûlée
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings
Beautiful Brûlées
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings
Beautiful Brûlées
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Add to Shopping List
This recipe is in your Shopping List
Instructions
For Sous Vide
  1. Preheat sous vide water bath to 80 °C / 176 °F.
  2. Whisk together yolks, sugar, salt, and lavender.
  3. In a small pot, heat cream until just under a simmer.
  4. Very slowly, pour cream into the egg mixture while whisking. If you rush this, you will curdle the eggs.
  5. Strain mixture and toss lavender buds.
  6. Pour evenly into 6 half-pint mason jars.
  7. Close jars until just "fingertip tight." From the Chef Steps website: "To close the jars fingertip tight, place the lid on top of the jar, then twist the band to tighten using just your fingertips. When you begin to feel resistance, twist once in the opposite direction, then once more in the original direction to tighten. Closing the jars until fingertip tight means that air will be able to escape from the jars when you submerge them in water. If you close them too tightly, the trapped air will press against the glass and could crack or break your jars."
  8. Carefully submerge the jars in the sous vide and cook for one hour.
  9. Remove jars and allow to rest at room temperature.
  10. Prepare an ice bath and transfer cooled jars to ice bath. Once cold, tighten the lids all the way. You can store for up to a week.
  11. Before serving, remove the lids and coat the top with a layer of sugar. If you want a thick crunchy layer, use more sugar.
  12. Set a blowtorch to the lowest gas release setting and evenly torch the top until sugar is browned. Alternatively, use a culinary torch at its highest setting. Be careful, however, to stay at least 10 inches away if using a blowtorch or risk breaking the jar (I learned the hard way).
  13. Let sit for five minutes to allow time to fully harden.
Traditional Steps
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Whisk together yolks, sugar, salt, and lavender.
  3. In a small pot, heat cream until just under a simmer.
  4. Very slowly, pour cream into the egg mixture while whisking. If you rush this, you will curdle the eggs.
  5. Strain mixture and toss lavender buds.
  6. Pour evenly into 6 ramekins. Place ramekins into a roasting pan.
  7. Pour in enough cold water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins and bake until just set, 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Remove ramekins from pan and allow to cool at room temperature until no longer too hot to handle.
  9. Refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight.
  10. Before serving, coat the top with a layer of sugar. If you want a thick crunchy layer, use more sugar.
  11. Set a blowtorch to the lowest gas release setting and evenly torch the top until sugar is browned. Alternatively, use a culinary torch at its highest setting. Be careful, however, to stay at least 10 inches away if using a blowtorch or risk breaking the ramekin (I learned the hard way).
  12. IF YOU DON'T HAVE A TORCH: you can broil the topping in your oven.
Recipe Notes

For cooking you'll want to use a culinary lavender.  Using a decorative lavender will produce an unpleasant soap-like taste.

Torching and Finishing-6

In this post, we ended the series on a sweet note with this lavender-infused crème brûlée.  Please stay tuned, new recipes are coming just around the corner (peeks around corner)…really soon!

Did you enjoy the series?  If so, please subscribe below or follow the Almost Kosher Facebook page or Instagram.  If not, please give me feedback on what you’d like to see more of in the comments.