The other day I Googled "how to use egg yolks." I had 10 egg yolks in a bowl in the fridge, having used the whites the night before to make a no-wheat/no-soy/no-sugar/no-gluten party snack for a friend's birthday celebration (spicy potato pancakes--quite decent actually). I couldn't let all those yolks go to waste. Google did not let me down. The very first search result told me I could use 8 of those 10 yolks by making creme brulee. Coincidentally we were given a creme brulee set as a wedding gift (complete with blow torch and ramekins), and had yet to use it. Thus began an afternoon of kitchen firsts:
1. First vanilla bean.
2. First blow torch experience.
3. First flash of understanding that there is something truly wrong with our oven.
Who could have guessed that 4 tiny inches of vanilla bean could fill the apartment with such a heady aroma. I scraped out the seeds and simmered them in heavy cream, then mixed the cream into the whipped egg yolks (tempering it, so as to avoid making vanilla scrambled eggs). I filled the ramekins and into the oven they went for the suggested 35 minutes at 275 degrees. An hour later, it still looked more like soup than creme. I upped the temperature. Another 55 minutes at 350 degrees. STILL soupy. It was supposed to "jiggle slightly in the middle." I turned it up to 450 degrees. 40 minutes later I had the consistency I was looking for. What the heck? Clearly our oven is way off (the recipe could not possibly be that wrong). Well, that could certainly explain a number of past cooking problems. How can I figure out how hot it really gets in there? Oven thermometer? What would Alton do?
Moving on. After the 3 hours of baking came the fun part:
It actually worked! I might have gotten a little carried away and burned the first one, but I was pleased as punch when the spoon cracked the hardened sugar just the way it's supposed to. Sadly, I do not like creme brulee, so poor Ashkon had to eat all four of them.