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Creme Brulee

2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten and strained
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
12 (3 inch) Pate Brisee tartlets shells, prebaked and cooled

Put the cream and the vanilla bean in a heavy saucepan and bring
to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes,
stirring occasionally. Set aside. Combine the egg yolks and 1/4
cup of the sugar and whisk together in a bowl over simmering water
until pale and fluffy.

The mixture should become dense but it must not scramble; be sure
that the heat is not too high. Whisking constantly, strain the
cream into the egg sugar mixture. Continue cooking over simmering
water for approximately 10 minutes, or until the mixture thickens
and coats the back of the spoon.

Take care not to over cook, or the mixture will separate. Remove
from the heat and quickly whisk in the butter. Cover with plastic
wrap placed directly on the custard and let cool to room temperature.
Spoon the custard evenly into the baked tartlet shells and refrigerate
for at least 4 hours, until the custard is set. Immediately before
serving, sprinkle a small amount of sugar on top of each custard
tartlet and caramelize.

Slide tartlets under the broiler to caramelize the sugar. To avoid
burning the crust, place thin strips of foil on the edges of the
pastry. Remove the foil immediately after caramelizing


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