Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rhubarb and Vanilla Creme Brulee

It's been a bad week. I don't think I tend to use this blog as my place to whinge, but I need to whinge. It all started pretty great, I made some lovely homemade ice cream (without an ice cream maker), which I was reasonably proud of, and I have a good weekend. But I was happily pottering around the house, planning to do some simple, straight-forward baking. I started to make a lemon and pomegranate pound cake, after receiving some lovely Royal Pom pomegranates from Catherine at WordStorm PR (ZOMG Steph accepted free samples, what a sell out $$$$). It was all going fine and dandy, and then I walked away from my temperamental oven for what seemed like 2 seconds, only to come back and find the top of my cake black and smoking. NOOO!
The cake failure was compounded when I tried to take it out of the tin and it split in half. And then after desperately trying to press the two halves together, I was trying to scrape some of the burnt bits off, only to have the whole thing fall apart. At this point I refrained from throwing the cake across the room, took a deep breath and walked out of the kitchen. (By the way the cake still tasted pretty good) That fail cake seemed to set the tone for the rest of this week. Since then I've managed to slice my thumb open, kill my laptop and my treasured home made ice cream was accidently left out to melt into a sad little puddle :( And that was just on Monday night. OH and did I mention the hiccups that refused to go away?
Now, about these brûlées. This Friday is Tomred's birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!), and so at first I thought about making him a rhubarb and custard birthday cake. Then I changed my mind and decided to try the Bourke St Bakery brûlées tarts. Then I realised the recipe was going to take me two days and I wouldn't be able to make it for his actual birthday due to other commitments, so I ended up making him just the crème brûlées without the pastry. Unfortunately Tomred was a victim of my fickle mind.
But I think these brûlées will be the turning point for my week. In complete contrast to the fail cake, these turned out lovely. I was worried that the rhubarb I stewed would be too sour, but it was offset by the lovely sweetness of the vanilla bean custard and the toffee on top. I was worried that I would over or undercook the custard and the texture would be weird, but even with the rhubarb it was still quite smooth. And of course, my favourite part was that I got to use my blowtorch.
Isn't it pretty? I love love love the crunchy layer on top of a crème brûlée. And it made that super satisfying *CRACK* as everyone broke the surface with their dessert spoon.
In the end, I'm kind of glad I avoided the hassle of making the whole tart. As much as I love the tarts and as much as I love making pastry, I have a feeling with the run of luck I've been having it would have somehow been a disaster. These were stress free and quite satisfying. One day I will definitely have to try making the whole tart from start to finish (especially the ginger one, gosh I love that one). But just the filling from the vanilla one, with rhubarb instead of strawberry, was really really tasty.
Here's hoping for a better week.
Rhubarb and Vanilla Crème brûlée
(adapted from Bourke St Bakery creme brulee custard recipe, makes approx 6)
200g fresh rhubarb
100g sugar
zest of one lemon
430ml whipping cream (35% fat)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways
6 egg yolks
70g caster sugar + extra for burning
Stew the rhubarb first; chop rhubarb into 1cm pieces and place in a medium saucepan with lemon zest and sugar. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes until tender and just starting to fall apart. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 140 degrees C
Place cream in a small saucepan, scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the cream and add the bean. Bring to the boil over high heat. As soon as it boils, remove from the heat and set aside for about 10 minutes.
Place egg yolks in stainless steel bowl and use a whisk to combine. Add sugar and whisk for about 30 seconds, or until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the slightly cooled cream through a fine sieve, discarding the vanilla bean, then pour the cream into the egg yolk mixture, stirring well to combine. Fold in the stewed rhubarb.
Spoon the warm custard mixture into 6 1/2 cup ramekins, until full. Place ramekins in a deep baking tray and pour in enough water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake in oven for about 45 minutes, or until just set.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack, then place in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Sprinkle 2 tsp of caster sugar over the top of each ramekin and caramelise with blowtorch. Happy days!
P.S. Thanks to Lisa for sending me the Bourke St Bakery recipe and to Karen for the vanilla bean donation :)
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  1. Bad luck with the cake, but these brulees look absolutely perfect! That crack on the top is to die for!!!

  2. And they were yummy! (So was the fail-cake :)

  3. Aww no, hope the thumb is healing and the laptop isn't too badly screwed :( Love the crunchy top of the creme brulee's, they're sure to make everyone happy. Here's to a fabulous end to a crap week (so far)! xx

  4. Surely all you need to fix a burnt cake is a tree stump and a trail of crumbs to make it "deconstructed" a la Masterchef? lol.

    The brulees look amazing. Presume the rhubarb wasn't too tart afterall? And hurrah for thick layers of toffee - cracktastic!

  5. Yum. I'm going to have to hunt down some creme brulee for lunch.

  6. OMG! Sucks that you had a crappy week but glad that it finished on a high note. Those brulees look wonderful; I'm craving some now!

    Now I can imagine your excitement when using the blow torch; were you tempted to burn more things? :P

  7. I love a girl that knows how to use fire!

  8. Oh no, sounds like you had a bad start to the week :( But I'm sure these creme brulees would have brightened it up! The toffee looks soooo good I wish I had one right now just to listen to that cracking sound hehe. LOL at the sellout comment!

  9. Nice! I love a bit of blowtorch action.

  10. Aww sorry to hear about your week! I know the feeling of a cooking failure, but a success makes up for it tenfold I think.
    These creme brulees look beautiful! I love that you added rhubarb, a bit of sour would go well with the richness of the vanilla.

  11. wow, so sorry to hear about the run of crapness, it seems to happen sometimes doesn't it? But my, that brulee looks amazing!!!! Love rhubarb.

  12. Ooh look at that vanilla bean umm... Poor you! Sorry you had a bad week but nothing that a hard crackly brulee top can't fix! *hugs*

  13. Two of my favourite things! Rhubarb and creme brulee, yum! I can totally relate to having a 'temperamental oven' :-(

  14. Oh wow! Sorry to hear about the run of bad luck. Seriously, though, these are incredible. YUM.

  15. hope your week gets better dude! your brulee looks fan freaking awesome!

  16. Your brulee looks amazing. I love that crack when you start to dig into it. I'm sure your week will be better. Staying positive helps a lot. Your photos are great. I can almost taste them ehehe.

  17. Wow Steph, really great looking brulees. I think they would be great where you eat them expecting regular creme brulee and you get surprise rhubarbs.

  18. Does sound like a terrible week but on the upside that creme brulee sounds and looks delicious!!

  19. I've been looking for a different rhubarb recipe from the ones I already make - these look fabulous! I had hiccups that wouldn't go away the other day too...weird.

  20. Blowtorching things always feels good. I bet eating the delicious results feels better :)

  21. The spoon cracky noise must've made at least one of those awful occurrences fade into the background :)

    And really, things could have been much worse... you could have blowtorched off your eyebrows.

    Love this recipe. I am a rhubarb addict.

  22. Sorry to hear about the failed cake. But this brulee is sooo wonderful! I'm making this for my ANZAC party. Forget pavlova! :)

  23. How could you NOT have a better week after tasting something as magical as that!

  24. I think this brulee is a sign that the rest of your week is going to be as awesome as your gorgeous brulee. The tartness of the rhubarb in the dessert represents the bitter-sweetness of it all. :-) Thank you for sharing!

    (Love the new badge in your side bar - you must be a hot baker. ;-)

  25. Aww *hugs* glad to hear things are going good now! and I think these cracking creme brulees would get anyone out of a foul mood mmmm

  26. What a dreadful week you've had! These brulees look mighty fine indeed. I'll take an excuse to bring out my blow torch!

  27. I like how you even arranged the yolks neatly in the bowl for photos. ;)

  28. "And with these crème brûlées, your week will magically brighten up!" *waves magic wand*

    It has to get better, esp when you have such stunning success with these babies! =D

  29. Warm wishes for a better week Hun. The creme brulee looks and sounds fab though ;0)

  30. Oooh ive never made a creme brulee before, yours look delicious, your photos are great too :D

  31. I like the sentence about $$$$!!! I know you want it. lol!!! Totally love the cracking sound of breaking into the brulee! I must try adding fruit/vege into creme brulee. This looks yum!

  32. Brenda - Thank you so much! Gotta love a good layer of toffee :)

    Caffeine - :) glad you liked both!

    Betty @ The Hungry Girl - Haha still no word on the laptop...I miss it so much! Thanks :)

    Helen (Grab Your Fork) - Hahaha oh damn I wish I had a tree stump for those occasions :) Yep the rhubarb was just tart enough, the custard and toffee helped balance it out!

    Julie - Hehe I hope you found some, mmm love creme brulee

    Phuoc'n Delicious - Aw thanks! Haha I always go a little overboard with my blowtorch. Heehee FIRE...

    Deadmoan - ...And I repeat..FIRE *cackles*

    Jacq - Yeah it was pretty crap :( Thanks! :D

    OohLookBel - Same! Any chance to pull out my blowtorch gets me in a good mood :)

    tangerine eats - totally agree, it's such a great feeling when something turns out right! thanks!

    Reemski - Definitely, thank god it doesn't seem to last long! Thank you, I'm addicted to rhubarb at the moment!

    Karen @ Citrus and Candy - Mmm yes that was one fat vanilla bean :D

    Maria - Awesome :) Hah yeah it's such a pain isn't it? Makes experimenting that much harder...

    Poires au Chocolat - :) Thank you so much!

    chocolatesuze - :) heehee thanks! It got a little worse but it did get better

    A cupcake or two - Thanks so much! Same here, nothing beats breaking into the surface :)

    Mark @ Cafe Campana - Thank you! Haha yeah I know, you can't tell at all from the surface that there's rhubarb in it

    Forager - Thank you! :) It did help cheer me up hehe

    marzipanmom - Oh excellent! I've got another rhubarb recipe coming up this week :) Haha how annoying are hiccups when they refuse to go away?

    Mr Taste @ tastedbytwo - I agree, like sushi!

    Conor @ HoldtheBeef - Most definitely! I'm a rhubarb addict too! lols yes I still have my eyebrows :) ugh i love the stuff

    Anh - I just feel bad the pomegranates went to waste! Hehe I hope you did make it! - :) haha somehow things got worse but oh well!

    Patty - hehe well it is a good looking badge ;)

    FFichiban - Definitely, all that toffee helps with the crankiness :)

    john@heneedsfood - Same here! Blowtorch love :)

    billy@atablefortwo - hahaha, well half of them fell that way so I couldn't resist nudging the rest into place :)

    mademoiselle délicieuse - Heheh :) I think it did eventually!

    Chele - Thank you :)

    Natalie...thanks so much!

    Ellie (Almost Bourdain) - Hehe you know I couldn't resist ;) Haha I swear I wasn't thinking of the cookoff when I used rhubarb

  33. Gorgeous dessert.
    I love the way you styled it with different colour tiles (if that's what the coloured squares are).

  34. thanks! Haha yes they are tiles, much cheaper than plates!

  35. JUST made these for relatives who were visiting for lunch! Absolutely delicious, the rhubarb was perfect. I added a touch of cardamom (I'm in Scandinavia after all) and that worked really well. For top garnish I added fresh raspberries and minced sweet cherries. Really, really good, thank you so much for the recipe!

  36. Emma - YAY! Thank you, I love getting feedback! Love the sound of the cardamom and berries on top, sounds delicious! Will have to try adding cardamom next time!


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