Delight guests with restaurant-quality dessert


— Many people feel dessert is the best part of any meal. When dining out, diners who can’t wait to peruse the dessert menu may find several items they think they can only enjoy at restaurants. But food fans need not be experts in the kitchen to enjoy their favorite desserts in the comforts of home. The following recipe for “Luscious Créme Brûlée” from Lori Longbotham’s “Luscious Creamy Desserts” (Chronicle Books) is a restaurant-quality dessert that’s simple to prepare and just as decadent as desserts you many find on the menus of your favorite restaurants.

Luscious Créme Brûlée

Serves 8

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup half-and-half

6 large egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 F. Have ready a flame-proof 1-quart shallow baking or gratin dish and a roasting pan. Put on a kettle of water to boil for the water bath.
  2. Heat the cream and half-and-half in a medium saucepan over medium heat until hot. Remove from the heat.
  3. Whisk together the yolks, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the salt in a medium bowl. Slowly add the cream mixture, whisking constantly until blended and smooth. Add the vanilla. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer set over a medium glass measuring cup or bowl.
  4. Pour the custard into the baking dish and skim any foam from the top. Transfer to the roasting pan, place in the oven, and pour enough boiling water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the custard is set around the edges but still slightly jiggly in the center. Do not overbake – the custard will set further as it cools. Remove the baking dish from the water bath and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. Refrigerate the créme brûlée, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours, until thoroughly chilled and set, or for up to 1 day.
  6. Preheat the broiler. Have the roasting pan ready, and fill a bowl with ice water. Gently blot the surface of the custard with the edge of a paper towel to remove any condensation. Sift the remaining 1/4 cup sugar evenly over the custard. Place the baking dish in the roasting pan and carefully pour enough ice water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish.
  7. Broil the custard about 3 inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the sugar has melted and turned a dark amber color; carefully move or rotate the dish if necessary so the sugar caramelizes evenly. Remove from the broiler and cool the custard in the ice water for 5 minutes.
  8. Carefully remove the baking dish from the baking pan. Serve right away, or refrigerate, uncovered, for no longer than 1 hour before serving – or the topping will soften.