I have owned a crème brûlée torch since before we owned a couch. Apparently, our small income didn’t stop me from making what I still believe is one of the best desserts on the planet.I wanted this dessert to kick off my celebration of Valentine’s Day. Though I don’t have anyone to share Valentine’s Day with in that way . . . I can’t ignore any holiday that is celebrated with pink frosted baked goods, and candy, and lace, and hearts. It’s so girly. I love it.

Besides, I love my kids more than anything else in the world, and so we will be celebrating the holiday together. I have always maintained that crème brûlée is basically easy to make. It takes a little planning, and a few special tools, but the ingredients themselves are really straightforward. They’re simply cream, egg yolks, vanilla, and sugar. Of course, with my recipe today, I added a little ground cardamom as well to make it even a little more special. To see some instructional photos for this process, you can take a look at the pumpkin crème brulée I did a couple years ago.

Cardamom Crème Brûlée

  • 2 cups cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, with seeds scraped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for the tops

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place a pot or kettle of water on the stove to boil. Line a roasting pan that will fit all your ramekins easily with a clean kitchen towel. Place the ramekins on top.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine cream and vanilla bean with seeds, and cardamom. Set over medium heat until just boiling. Take off heat, cover, and let the vanilla and cardamom steep for 5 minutes or so. Briskly whisk egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar in a large glass bowl until pale and smooth. While whisking, pour a small amount of hot cream into the egg yolk mixture. Continue to whisk and add more cream until all of the mixtures are incorporated. With a fine mesh sieve strain mixture into a container with a spout (to facilitate pouring).

3. Place the roasting pan with the ramekins on a rack in the center of the oven, and pour the boiling water into the pan so the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Pour the cream mixture into the ramekins, and carefully close the oven door. Bake for 25-55 minutes (check often, as the different sizes of ramekins will affect the cooking time), or until the centers of the crèmes brûlées jiggle slightly. Remove from oven. Cool completely, then refrigerate for 4 hours, or overnight.

3. Pour about 1-2 tablespoons of sugar evenly over the top of each crème brûlée and use a propane torch or a kitchen torch to heat the sugar until golden brown to mahogany, and bubbling. Serve immediately, or refrigerate again until the top of the cream cools down again, and then serve.

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