September 2011

Crème Brulee

It may not stand up to croissants and baguettes when it comes to being pure French, but Crème Brulee is still a favorite around the world.

Crème Brulee is a brilliant dessert which combines seductively soft and creamy custard with a hard sugar crust topping which gives a satisfying crack when the spoon hits the surface. Popularly served in French restaurants, the true origins of the original crème brulee recipe is debated, however in general it is viewed as a French dessert today. No matter who lays claim to the invention, it is a modern delight in my book.

The traditional crème brulee recipe is actually quite simple. Heavy cream, vanilla bean, sugar and egg yolks are all that are required for the custard which gently cooks in a bath of water inside the oven. This method of baking is what gives crème brulee its amazing, moist texture. The ideal internal temperature of the custard when removed from the oven is 170 to 175 degrees. After it is baked, crème brulee is traditional chilled in the fridge until set, but it will be hard to resist digging in as soon as it exits the oven door.

The last step, the step which makes crème brulee different from everyday vanilla custard, is the topping. People use different sugars to produce the crackly top, but turbinado is often recommended because it melts well. You can melt and caramelize the sugar together using the broiling element in your oven (just be sure to watch it because it can go from golden to black pretty fast!) or you can purchase a kitchen torch which is safe for indoor use. Once the sugar is caramelized into a luscious layer the crème brulee is ready to be devoured.

Mock Apple Pie: Why???

Today brings a great post on Metafilter on the topic of mock apple pie, sparked by this article on The Awl where the writer experiments with making "chemical apple pie" (which is the same thing by a different, more alarming name).
Much like the article's author, I once made a mock apple pie out of curiosity. The results were… fairly gross. Nothing you would mistake for apple pie, except in the most grievously extreme circumstances. It tasted exactly like what it was: mushy Ritz crackers covered with apple pie gloop.

Candy Fight: Snickers Peanut Butter Vs. Milky Way Simply Caramel

There are two candy bars out there right now which have replaced their usual contents with just a whole bunch of one content. In the case of Snickers, the peanut flavor (of the peanuts) now fills the center of the Snickers Peanut Butter Squared. And over in the other corner of the ring we have Milky Way Simply Caramel, with a whole crapton of caramel filling that bar.
Let's get ready to crrrrrumblllllle! (Sorry.)
Round 1: Weight
Both bars give you two individual units in a single pack. Snickers Peanut Butter Squared gives you two squares which together weigh in at 1.78 ounces. A regular Snickers bar clocks in at 2 ounces. Milky Way Simply Caramel is two rectangular segments which come in at 2.84 ounces, with a regular Milky Way at 2.05 ounces.

Werther's Original

Do they still air the Werther's Original ads where the kid gets these candies from the pocket of his grandfather's cardigan? We made fun of that ad in the 1990s when it first started airing in the States. It made the candy seem gross, like it would come out of that pocket covered with fluff and denture powder, and be sticky from age, besides.
I guess they were trying to create a historical background for the candy. To give it that patina of a respectable past. In the same way that the Moleskine company took a regular old notebook and made it seem classy and historical.

Green Apple Mentos

(Whoops! Forgot to take a picture before I ate them all.)
I don't usually care much for Mentos, but these little fellows leaped into my basket during a weak moment at Rite Aid. I was dimly aware of other single-flavor Mentos packages like strawberry and mint, but green apple was a new one to me. Plus they were on sale, so I couldn't resist. (Have you SEEN the price of candy lately?)
America definitely gets the short end of the stick, as far as Mentos are concerned. The rest of the world has literally dozens of flavors to choose from, including oddballs like raisin, plum, black licorice, menthol, and citrus mango. Maybe if we got a better flavor selection, I would be more interested in these chewy little candies!

Adventures in Flan

As a single person with three pet chickens, I often find myself with an overabundance of eggs. There are only so many omelets one person can eat, so I sometimes venture farther afield in the culinary world. Flan is an excellent use of excess eggs, because it takes at least five eggs. The Puerto Rican style of flan is firmer than the American, and it uses six to eight eggs!
Flan is known as crème caramel in some parts of the world. But in America and in most Hispanic countries, it's called flan. Flan in Hispanic countries is like ice cream or apple pie in America: it's a solid, go-to favorite, sort of a default dessert.