It has been a while since I participated in the Eggless Baking Challenge. I decided I would not miss it this time. But the hectic work schedules leaves me exhausted on weekends to venture into unknown territories... And Creme Brule was one such recipe. Curiosity however won the trepidation, and one attempt later I was very happy with the outcome, albeit a bit late for the challenge ;)
Here is the original recipe (Source: Sanjeev Kapoor)
Cream - 500 ml
Egg Yolks - 4
Egg - 1
Sugar - 1 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp
Vanilla Essence - 1/2 tsp
Demerara Sugar 6 tbsp
Heat the cream in a pan till it reaches the boiling point. Set aside to cool. Place the egg yolks and whole egg in a bowl, add all the sugar and mix. Cook over a double boiler, or in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, till the sugar dissolves, making sure that the eggs do not scramble. Add the egg mixture to the cream and mix well. Preheat oven to 180°C/350º F/Gas Mark 4. Add the vanilla essence to the cream mixture and mix well. Strain the entire mixture into another bowl. Pour the cream mixture into four ramekin moulds. Cover each mould with aluminum foil and pierce to allow steam to escape. Pour some water into a deep baking tray. Place the moulds in the water bath and place the tray in the oven. Bake for twenty to twenty-five minutes. Remove from the oven, take the moulds out of the water bath and allow them to cool completely. Chill in the refrigerator. Just before serving sprinkle a tablespoon of Demerara sugar over the set custard in each of the moulds and caramelise the sugar with the torch. Serve immediately.
To caramelize the sugar without using a blowtorch, there is a method to heat the spoon on the flame and place it on top of the sugar.
First of all I scaled the recipe down, altered some proportions and finally came up with the following:
Cream - 200 ml
Custard Powder - 3 tbsp
Sugar - 4 tbsp
Milk - 3 tbsp
Demerara sugar - 2 tbsp
Gelatine - 1/4 tsp
Water - 1/2 tbsp
Mix the milk and custard powder into a smooth paste. Heat the cream and sugar in a saucepan, until the sugar dissolves. Mix the custard paste into the cream and bring it to a boil, stirring continously so that there no lumps. When the custard thickens remove it from the heat and allow it to cool down.
Mix the gelatine crystals in water in a shallow saucepan and gently place it over the flame, until the gelatine dissolves in the water.
Beat the cooled down custard with the gelatine for a few seconds in the blender. Strain the mixture into a bowl. Spoon the smooth custard into the ramekins moulds. I used 1-ounce small ramekins and was able to fill up 5 of those with the custard.
Allow to set in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
Sprinkle some demerara sugar on top of the set cream custard. Heat a ladle in the flame and place it on top of the sugar. The heat from the ladle should caramelize the sugar. In my case, the sugar stuck to the base of the ladle when I lifted it up and made a few hollows. So I caramelized the sugar on only one ramekin. I skipped the rest. I was guessing placing the hot ladle on the sugar and heating the top with a lighter would work as well. But since I did not have a lighter at home I could not try it.
Verdict: The creaminess of the custard was awesome... But I am a little doubtful if it qualifies as panna cotta instead of creme-brulee given that it has gelatine and it is a no-bake recipe. I leave it to the experts to comment on it.