And yes, you do need butane to use a kitchen torch...they don't work well without!
Coffee-Caramel Crème Brûlée
The custard in this clever crème brùlée tastes just like a rich caramel cappuccino.
2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
1/4 cup dark-roast coffee beans (such as French roast; about 3/4 ounce), crushed with mallet in plastic bag
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup water
2 cups half and half
8 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 teaspoons raw sugar*
Bring 1 cup cream and coffee beans to simmer in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat; cover and let steep at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Stir 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, swirling pan occasionally, about 11 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Add remaining 1 cup whipping cream (mixture will bubble up). Stir over low heat until caramel is smooth. Stir in half and half. Strain coffee-infused cream into caramel cream; discard coffee beans in strainer.
Whisk yolks, salt, and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in cream mixture. Strain custard into large measuring cup.
Arrange eight 2/3-to 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups in roasting pan. Divide custard among ramekins. Add enough warm water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins or custard cups.
Bake custards until just set in center, 65 to 70 minutes. Transfer custards from water bath directly to refrigerator. Chill uncovered until cold, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
Sprinkle top of each custard with 1 teaspoon raw sugar. Using kitchen torch, melt sugar on each custard until deep amber. (Alternatively, preheat broiler. Arrange custards on small rimmed baking sheet; broil until sugar topping melts and browns, about 2 minutes.) Refrigerate custards until sugar topping hardens, at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour (do not chill longer than 1 hour or topping will start to soften). Serve custards cold.
* Also called turbinado or demerara sugar; available at most supermarkets and at natural foods stores.
Really, though, the best crème brùlée that I've ever had was this one:
Ginger and Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
5 large egg yolks
For Crème Brûlée
12 teaspoons sugar
Sliced tropical fruit (such as mango, papaya and/or kiwi)
Preheat oven to 325°F. Place three 4-inch-diameter fluted flan dishes* in each of two 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pans or place six 3/4-cup ramekins in 1 pan. Mix cream, sugar and ginger in heavy medium saucepan. Using small sharp knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean. Add seeds and bean to saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to simmer. Cover pan, reduce heat to very low and simmer gently 10 minutes to infuse flavors. Strain into large measuring cup.
Whisk yolks in medium bowl until well blended. Gradually whisk in hot cream mixture just to blend. Return custard to measuring cup; divide among dishes. Pour enough hot water into pans to come halfway up sides of dishes. Carefully transfer pans to oven.
Bake custards until almost set in center when pans are gently shaken, about 30 minutes for fluted flan dishes and 35 minutes for ramekins. Using metal spatula, transfer custards in dishes to work surface; cool 30 minutes. Chill at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.
Make Crème Brûlée:
Sprinkle 2 teaspoons sugar evenly over each custard. Working with 1 custard at a time, hold blowtorch** so that flame is 2 inches above surface. Direct flame so that sugar melts and browns, about 2 minutes.
Refrigerate until custards are firm again but topping is still brittle, at least 2 hours but no longer than 4 hours so that topping doesn't soften. Garnish crème brûlées with fruit.
*Four-inch-diameter fluted clear glass flan dishes are available at cookware stores and many hardware stores. They are about 2/3 inch deep and hold about 1/2 cup liquid.
**Available at some cookware stores.