A crème brûlée experience is like no other. You’re in New York. Eating at a lovely (and expensive), New American restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan or an authentic (and not so expensive) French café in a converted brownstone in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
The appetizers and entrées were well done or barely cooked, whatever you prefer. Your friends and/or business associates are engaged in a deep conversation about politics. You’re interested and contributing to the conversation here and there, but you can’t help but wonder, ‘What’s on that dessert menu?’
Finally, you order the crème brûlée and it comes out beautiful, shiny, and appealing. You’ve never seen anything like it, have you? With hesitation to mess up its perfect, golden brown beauty, you break its candy crust, and soft Mozart violins start to play.
Tasting the burnt sugar candy is enough to make you grin like a child. But the sweet, silky vanilla cream is simply addictive. It’s a dessert of opposites. Hard and soft. Burnt and barely cooked. Deep and mild flavor. When you’re finished you ask yourself, who originated this loveliest of lovely desserts? And how am I the last one in the world to know about it?
According to my research, crème brûlée is derived from the Spanish Catalan cream, but the French has made it their own.
And, in turn, made me a fan of their cuisine for life! Crème brûlée one of the biggest reasons why I love French food. I may not be able to remember exactly the first time I had crème brûlée, but I’m sure that it was just like the amazing experience I described above, so much so that I had to have it if it was even an option.
Now I find myself missing fine dining and making crème brûlée at home. I made two versions: traditional and vegan.
My son craves a classic NY Times version—I’ve posted it on Frealthy. It’s a traditional recipe that is pretty much the same everywhere online: eggs, heavy cream, vanilla, sugar, and burnt sugar finish.
Most of my family loves this vegan version—also posted on Frealthy—originally by namelymarly.com, which defies the need for eggs and heavy cream. It was easy to make but took a while to finish because the “cream” must set over night in the fridge to thicken.
The vegan crème brûlée never really sets like the traditional recipe, at least mine did not—perhaps I should’ve used more cashews or arrowroot powder to make the “cream” a thicker and richer texture. But, nonetheless, it turned out fantastic in flavor and creaminess.