Monday, October 6, 2008

Sweet Potato Creme Brulee

So I've been wanting to make creme brulee for a while now. I even bought real vanilla beans so that when I did decide to make it I would have them on hand. I've never used real vanilla beans before but I think that they are worth it if you are going to make creme brulee. Since there are so few ingredients you want to make sure that you are using the best things possible. I was browsing around the other day and came across this recipe for sweet potato creme brulee at the Barefoot Kitchen Witch and knew I had to try it. I just happen to have two sweet potatoes laying around that were destined to become fries but this just sounded so much better.

I only made a couple of changes to her recipe and I think it trued out really good for my first attempt at creme brulee. It was super simple to make but the only downside was how long it too to bake. It seemed to take forever to set up and then I had to wait for it to chill! So if you are going to make this I would recommend that you make it a day ahead or early in the morning otherwise you are going to have to wait forever to eat it. Mine wasn't as creamy as creme brulee usually is so next time I think I will use less sweet potato. My 2 sweet potatoes were pretty big so I think that next time I'll just use one large one.

Sweet Potato Creme Brulee
2 sweet potatoes, baked, cooled, peeled and mashed
2 cups half and half (I used this instead of heavy cream because it's not as bad for you)
3/4 cup milk
1/4 granulated sugar
1/4 brown sugar (I didn't pack it I just made it a generous 1/4 cup)
4 egg yolks
1/2 of a vanilla bean

Combine milk, cream and scraped vanilla bean in a pot and bring just to a boil. Steep the mixture for about 10 minutes and then remove the vanilla bean. Don't throw the vanilla bean away. You can dry it and then put it into a container with some sugar and make vanilla sugar.

Milk mixture cooking. Look at all the vanilla seeds!

Meanwhile whisk together egg yolks and sugars. Then add the sweet potato and mix well. When the milk mixture is ready, slowly ladle about a quarter of it into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly, to temper the yolks. Then slowly pour the yolk mixture into the milk mixture, still whisking, until combined.

Egg yolks and sugar

Strain the finished mixture to remove and of the fibrous parts from the sweet potatoes. Ladle the strained mixture into ramekins.

Before going into the oven

Bake on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet at 200 degrees F until the center is barely jiggly when you shake the ramekin. Mine took just under 2 hours. I think that it took so long because I filled the ramekins all the way to the top. Next time I will try filling it less and use more dishes. This time I used 6 but I think that the recipe would be perfect for 8 ramekins.

The finished creme brulee cooling by the door

Allow to cool to room temperature and then cover and chill for 4-6 hours.

For the crispy sugar on top of the creme brulee I decided to make a caramelized sugar in a pan and then spread it on top instead of the more traditional method of sprinkling the sugar on and then caramelizing it. I found this to be much easier for me because I don't like broiling the sugar because it takes forever and the custard gets warm. I don't have a little torch either so this was the next best thing for me to get the sugar nice and crispy while still having a chilled custard. I found the recipe here and it was really simple to make.

Caramelized Sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water

Mix everything together in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat.

Stir constantly until sugar has caramelized. It should be about the color of honey and smell like toasted marshmallows. Remove from heat. Blot off any moisture from the top of your creme brulee.

Using a small ladle or gravy spoon, spoon about a tablespoon on to the surface of your well chilled creme brulee. Carefully tilt and swirl your ramekin so that the melted sugar coats the top of the custard. Work quickly because the sugar will set fast. Also make sure that the sugar layer isn't too thick otherwise it will be difficult to eat.
Serve immediately and enjoy!

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