RAYMOND BLANC’S VANILLA CRÈME BRÛLÉE
Provided by: Raymond Blanc
Yield: Serves 4
With a small sharp knife, split the vanilla pod lengthways. With the back of the blade, scrape off all the seeds inside the pod. Chop the pod finely. Bring the milk to the boil in a pan with the vanilla seeds and chopped pod, then cook at a gentle simmer for a further 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar until a pale straw colour. Pour the hot milk onto the egg yolk mixture. Mix well, then strain the milk and egg yolk mixture through a fine sieve into a clean pan, pressing on the vanilla pods and seeds to extract as much flavour as possible. Spoon off any foam from the surface and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 140°C/275°F/gas 1. Pour equal quantities of the mixture into the ramekins or egg dishes. Line a deep roasting tin or dish just large enough to hold the ramekins with kitchen paper. Place the filled ramekins into this, on top of the paper. (Placing kitchen paper under the ramekins during cooking will serve as a form of insulation against the strong heat from the oven and prevent them from overcooking.) Add enough boiling water to the tin or dish to reach three-quarters of the height of the ramekins. Transfer the tin to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until the mixture has just set.When the mixture has set, remove each ramekin fromthewater and leave to cool downat roomtemperature. When cold, chill for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the grill to very hot. Sprinkle the demerara sugar over the top of each cream, and caramelise under the hot grill for 2–3 minutes according to its strength. Leave to cool and set into a delightful layer of crisp caramel. When set, place the ramekins on serving plates and serve.