Friday, August 27, 2010

Crème Brûlée!

I first encountered the divinity of crème brûlée last year when I visited Paris, France. I had always wanted to try it before then, but I never saw the dish as an option on most restaurant menus. Well, after I had that first taste made by that young Parisian chef, I was hooked! When I came back to the States I was, and am, always on the hunt for crème brûlée …ask my friends.

If you’ve never had the dessert, you should! It’s a very rich and satiny smooth intense vanilla flavored custard dessert with a top of torched sugar---the “brûlée” in crème brûlée. IT IS GOOD. DIVINE, ACTUALLY.

I always wanted to make the dessert, but was always too intimidated. I have to torch the top? Use a real vanilla bean? Temper yolks? Bake it in a water bath? Oh, and use ramekins? What the hell?! No, thank you.

Needless to say, I was scared.

That has all changed, ladies and gentleman!

Yesterday, my friend Sam was having an intimate dinner party to introduce me to a colleague of hers who I will start working with on Monday. I figured since she was going through all that trouble to make dinner, host it, and introduce me to new people, I could at least bring a good dessert. I didn’t want to bring cookies or brownies or cupcakes…I wanted something sophisticated.

Crème Brûlée instantly popped into my mind. I thought that I could perhaps find some to purchase at a restaurant, or even a bakery. Yea, nope. They don’t do that. Trader Joe’s had some frozen crème brûlée with a chocolate shell around it, but that just seemed rather ghetto and suspect so I passed.

I didn’t really want to NOT have crème brûlée, so I figured all that was left was for me to make it, and I was NERVOUS.

I went online to get a recipe, bought the ingredients and equipment I needed (including a bootleg Home Depot torch that burned my thumb off), and got to work.

After reading and re-reading the recipe, it wasn’t hard at all and I thought it looked pretty good when it came out of the oven. I stuck it in the fridge to chill for the next 4 hours, and waited.

I couldn’t taste it before I took it to Sam’s house because I only made just enough. At the end of dinner when I went to go torch them (you have to torch them right before serving), I was praying that they came out okay. Forget about delicious, I just wanted them to be edible, lol!

I handed them out, watched as everybody cracked the sugar top, and waited while they tried it…

They loved it!!! :D

I then tried it, and OH MY GOODNESS YOU GUYS. It was sooooo freaking good!

I’m not even being biased here! I swear! The custard came out super rich and had the most perfect vanilla flavoring in all the land. Yes. All the land.

I had one saved for my brother and brought it to him after dinner, and he gave it a “10” and me a hug because he said that was the perfect finish to his day. :) My brother is HIGHLY critical, so I knew it was that good if I got his seal of approval.

Sigh. So yea. The only thing I regret is that I didn’t make more. Grrr. I could really use some of it right now. Yum! :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies...Ever!

Ok. I am typically not a cookie fan. I like cakes, brownies, and denser types of desserts that really stick to your stomach and have to be washed down with a glass of milk. I mean, I'll eat a cookie if that's all there is, but I don't get excited about them.

Fast forward to this week.

I've heard about 5 different people talk about these special chocolate chip cookies that are made with browned butter instead of the regular room temperature butter. Now, when I first heard about these cookies I didn't pay them that much attention, because once again; cookie? So what, who cares...But, after reading about what makes them different from your traditional chocolate chip cookie (these have more of a toffee taste because of the brown butter), my interest peaked. I decided that this was my treat that I would make for this Sunday, and I AM GLAD THAT I DID.

These cookies are so good! The brown butter really adds a richer and more indulgent depth of flavor. I made 3 sheets and in the last batch I threw in peanut butter chips---EVEN BETTER. Not kidding.

I got the recipe from America's Test Kitchen, and I think you should make them too!