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Creme Brulee

3 cups heavy cream
1 piece vanilla beans, pierced
1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
fresh raspberries, optional

Preheat oven to 300. In top of double boiler over hot water, heat
cream, vanilla bean and sugar to almost boiling. Lower heat and
simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Beat eggs and egg yolks.
Pour cream mixture in a thin stream into eggs, stirring constantly.
Return to double boiler. Cook over medium heat, stirring with a
wooden spoon, for 3 to 4 minutes or until custard coats back of
spoon. Remove vanilla bean. Pour into 6 custard dishes or 4 to 5
cup flame proof serving dish. Set dishes in a large pan of hot
water on middle rack of oven. (Hot water should be level with
custard.) Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until center of custard
is set. Remove custard from water and cool. Cover and chill. To
serve, sift brown sugar on top of creme. Place dish into bowl of
crushed ice. Leaving door open, place under broiler at least 6"
from flame until hard crust of carmelized sugar is formed. Serve
immediately or chill until serving time. Pass bowl of fresh
raspberries along with creme for the perfect topping. Add a spoonful
of whipped creme to the custard, if desired.

VARIATIONS, FLAVORED CREME BRULEE:

Vanilla Bean - Add 1 pod for 3 cups of cream. Break it open
lenthwise or simply pierce it, and put it into liquid before it
boils.

Chocolate - Add 4 1/2 oz cooking chocolate for each 3 cups of cream,
melted in warm liquid.

Praline - Add 4 1/2oz pralines to each 3 cups of cream after it is
cooked.

Nuts - Add 1 cup finely chopped pecans or brazil nuts for 3 cups
cream after it is cooled.

Coffee - Use 3oz coffee beans (Espresso, French Roast, etc....)
finely ground, then grilled in a pan of 3 cups cream. Add to
boiling liquid; infuse for 15 minutes, then strain.

Bananas - Mash 2 soft bananas; saute in 1 tbsp butter. Add 2 tbsp
brandy and 2 tsp brown sugar. Cook for 5 minutes. Pat down on
bottom of creme brulee pan before adding liquid.


NOTES: Use a double boiler to scald the cream unless you have a
heavy saucepan. Use very low heat. Milk scorches easily and, when
scorched, should be thrown out.

Beat eggs or egg yolks with a wire whisk or beater. Add sugar
gradually and continue whipping until it is thoroughly mixed in.

Never add eggs directly to a hot mixture. Pour some of the hot
liquid into the eggs while stirring briskly, then return the warmed
combination to the remaining hot liquid in the pan.

Stir the custard constantly over low heat until it acquires body.
Test it by letting it run off the back of a spoon; if a light
coating clings to the spoon, the custard is finished.

Stir the custard occasionally as it cools to prevent a surface skin
from forming. When it is cool, chill it, covered lightly with a
clean dish towel, in the refrigerator.

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