Tuesday, September 30, 2008

TWD: Creme Brulee



Approximately 5 or 6 hours a day, three or four days a week, when I am not doing the things I REALLY love, like spending time with my family, food blogging, or creating themed seasonal displays in my frontyard, I work as a bankruptcy lawyer. Now I know, I know, when you hear "bankruptcy lawyer" you think: Dry. Humorless. Socially awkward. Yes, I KNOW those are the stereotypes, so I feel like I need to just go ahead and state for the record that . . . yup, that's pretty much right on the money. We are a dry, humorless, and socially awkward bunch.

Anyway, I mention this only because as we all know, the economy is unfortunately in the tank these days, and that means that it's the busy season for the bankruptcy folks. They don't call us "harbingers of doom" for nothing. And while I have been just a part-time bankruptcy lawyer since having kids, on rare occasions during the particularly busy times I sometimes have to work much longer hours for a short but intense stretch. Well, last week was one of those weeks, as we were getting ready file a large chapter 11 (in fact, Julie and Amanda were here too; Amanda even brought a Dimply Plum Cake to share with the rest of us!). So all week long, I got home late and fell into bed sometime after midnight. I started to have panic attacks that I might not get to make the creme brulee because I simply would not have time to go out and get a torch. Amanda was clearly worried about this too, and so one night at work, we plotted her secret early escape from the office to procure the goods from Bed, Bath & Beyond before it closed for the night. It was touch and go for a while there, because we didn't really leave her much time to get out to BB&B, and I could not concentrate on another thing until an email from Amanda landed in my inbox, Subject: WE HAVE TORCHES AND BUTANE.



At close to midnight on Sunday, after working around the clock all weekend long and having just put 25 car dealerships into bankruptcy, Amanda and I stood together in our breakroom with the instruction manual and tried to figure out how to load the butane into our creme brulee torches. And somehow that seemed like a perfectly normal thing to be doing at the time.

Creme brulee has a very short ingredient list, which often means there is little room for error with that handful of ingredients. But to my pleasant surprise, this came together really easily. It took all of 10 minutes to prepare the ingredients and fill the dishes with the custard. It really wasn't all that much harder to make than instant pudding! Oh, I'll be taking that little secret with me to my grave. Now, I did think that the baking part was a little trickier than the mixing part. Dorie says to bake the custard at 200 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. Sixty minutes in, my custards were still as jiggly as my thighs since joining TWD. I let it go until 90 minutes, when it was STILL JIGGLY!!! I finally gave up and decided to just take it out and hope for it to set up when it chilled, and it pretty much did.



Then it was time to torch. I admit that I was a little afraid of the torch. I'm what some would call "accident prone," and probably not the kind of person who needs to be operating a blowtorch under any circumstances, much less immediately after coming off a weeklong stretch of limited sleep. I made sure to try out the torch for the first time before David got home, so he didn't have to suffer through watching me use it. Like the custard-making itself, the blowtorching was far easier than I ever could have imagined! I assume that it takes a little practice to get really good at it, and I probably overcarmelized certain areas of my creme brulee, but overall, it worked like a charm and I was thrilled with the result.

I rarely order creme brulee in restaurants; I like it, but I usually prefer flour to show up somewhere in my desserts. David, on the other hand, really loves creme brulee and will often choose it if it is on the menu. I was so happy to be able to make this for him after he picked up the slack for me all week, and spent the weekend in the house by himself with three small kids and no beer. THIS MAN DESERVES A CREME BRULEE. And he really enjoyed this one. It probably could have stood a little extra time in the fridge (I took it out and carmelized it right at the three hour mark) and was not quite as "custardy" as I would have liked, but the flavor was wonderful. I expect that the three remaining custards in my refrigerator will benefit from the extra time in there and will be perfect tomorrow night or the following night.

I will definitely be keeping creme brulee in the "special dessert" rotation, especially now that I own a blowtorch and am not afraid to use it. It's a perfect "company" dessert -- it can be made ahead, it's easy yet impressive, and it comes with a live pyrotechnic show. What's not to love? A big thanks to Mari from Mevrouw Cupcake for choosing this classic!

49 comments:

n.o.e said...

Oh, I feel your pain in the round the clock crunch time department - brings back long-distant memories of my litigation days...

But what a cool cloak-and-dagger story - a clandestine trip to BB&B! And I must admit to torch envy. Your caramelized sugar is a thing of beauty. I had many woes in that department.

Great job, and I'm glad to see you have your priorities straight - with hubby and TWD right at the top!
Nancy

Bridgett said...

You are right, it makes for a great company dessert because once you break out that blow torch, everyone gets interested. Your caramelized top is perfect!

Marthe said...

I'm glad you were able to get a torch and make the Crème Brûlée! I absolutely loved them!!

Prudy said...

Hilarious commentary as always. And here I was prepared to tell you that I need more posts! I'd love to read your commentary every day, but I'll cut you some slack since you are so busy.:) What great fun to be in TWD with coworkers and friends. Especially since you can commiserate about late nights and blow torches and jiggly thighs and bankruptcies and other various topics. Your creme brulee looks wonderful, although I am partial to flour myself.

Audrey said...

I work with lawyers, and I have never seen any of them standing around the breakroom loading a blowtorch. Would have changed my whole outlook. Your dessert looks beautiful!

Alwayzbakin said...

Your creme brulee looks awesome. Your post is so funny!

Lori said...

you must not fit the stereotype, that's the first thing i have to say. and i laughed so hard at the "somehow that seemed like a perfectly normal thing to be doing at the time." Perfectly normal if you're a baker! Anyway, great photos, and wonderful stories as always.

Amanda said...

Yay Cathy!! I am so glad David enjoyed it and it will be even better today!!! I loved it too. I am so so so glad to work with you- I would not have made it through this week without you!! You made it actually a little fun (well as much as possible).

Peggy said...

I'm so impressed that you used the torch! And what a pretty torch to boot. I bet David loved it!

Kimberly said...

Beautiful! I am ashamed to admit I am still afraid of the torch. Sweet husband bruleed our dessert last night, but I have promised myself I will try my hand at it tonight (I do enjoy having random creme hanging around waiting to be bruleed). Good job with all the bankruptcy!

Maria said...

Glad you got your torch! You sound so busy! I am amazed you found the time to make this dessert. Glad you did because it looks excellent!

Anne said...

I'm glad you guys were able to make it work despite your crazy week! Your creme brulee looks absolutely perfect.

And my husband is a tax attorney. I found myself nodding a little to those stereotypes lol. (though I'm sure, just from reading your posts, you fall far from them!!

Jodie said...

Mine took a WAY long time, too. Yours look great.

Jamie said...

Your posts always crack me up! My thighs have a bit more jiggle too since TwD! ;)

Jess said...

Gorgeous creme brulee! I am glad that clandestine BB&B trips and making easy but impressive desserts serve as a bit of a distraction from what must be difficult, and not always cheerful, work. I knew I recognized that jiggle from somewhere...

Engineer Baker said...

I'm glad to know that not all bankruptcy attorneys are dry and humorless :) And it's always good to have a new addition to the special dessert rotation - yours looks wonderful.

Laura said...

I am simply amazed that you got this done in light of what you do for a living! Wow, no room for me to complain anymore ;-) and you most definitely are not humorless!
Your Creme Brulee looks fabulous! I laughed out loud at the jiggly thighs observation. Ah, so true, so true.

I had to wait for my husband to come home so he could put my torch together and I made him light it too (while I stood waaayyyy back). So glad your husband was able to enjoy this (they do so much don't they?!).

Elizabeth said...

What a great story though! I have a friend who is fond of saying (usually when we're lost in the haunted woods of Tennessee or the frozen tundra of a Dakota, or about to carren off a cliff into the Grand Canyon) that it's a good thing, because we're making memories... and we make a lot of memories.

It looks like you made a great creme brulee memory.

I have to say that i don't hink any of those steriotypes are excpusive to bankrupcy lawyers - I think they are more general lawyer traits. ;) (And I LOVE your blog name.)

Teanna said...

Good luck of getting through your busy times! I hope that they don't last long! Your brulee looks GORGEOUS!

Debbie said...

I have no "litigation" days, but I do have crunch time for community events day...being a Chamber of Commerce Ex. Director.
And I am always so amazed at your energy!! All your blogs, cooking, kids, husband. My kids are grown, husbands asleep in front of the TV, dog too..and I'm up late baking!
In awe of all you do.... oh, and your creme brulee looked good too!

Karen said...

Yours looks absolutely delicious!! I was also a little afraid of the torch!

Flourchild said...

Your torch is good looking for a torch! Im thankful you made it through a busy week of lawyer stuff. Im extra thankful you and Amanda were able to encourage eachother and make the Brulee! I love the way your sugar topping turned out...it's perfect and brown in all the right places. Keep up the good work your a fantastic cook and I can tell a super wife, mother and friend!

SiHaN said...

don't worry, i was frightened of the torch at first too. but not anymore.. *sniggers*

Pamela said...

Cathy, I really enjoyed this post. I feel like I know you better now. Does that make any sense?? Anyway, great job on the brulee! How sad that 25 dealerships went into bankruptcy!! Scary times we are living in, that's for sure!! By the way, I will pass on your compliment to Marc! He did have fun with the torch.

Mary Ann said...

Wow- I am amazed that you are so dedicated. After a week like that, I don't know if I would have done it (I didn't do the creme brulee anyway). They look marvelous and I am sure they tasted wonderful.

CB said...

LOL. You are obviously not humorless. Glad you and your cohorts were able to procure a torch and enjoy making the creme brulee. Its my favorite TWD now!
Clara @ iheartfood4thought

Natashya said...

Looks great - other people had to go longer with the baking too - I did mine in a countertop oven and I think the size of the oven made them cook through on time.
Every woman needs a torch in the kitchen - congrats on the new toy.

pinkstripes said...

I made my husband come with me to buy a torch. Both of us were standing there trying to figure out if the torch came with butane. Not seeing anything on package, my husband said "let's ask someone". It's funny that something as simple as a kitchen torch can make normally smart people freak out a bit.

Your brulee looks brilliant!

Jen said...

Despite my relunctance to join this little baking club (much to Peggy's and Amanda's dismay and their daily spanish inquisitions as to why I won't join) I do actually own a creme brulee torch. I'll admit, I've never made creme brulee. Ya'll have inspired me though. Perhaps I'll use the brulee torch to actually carmalize sugar on top of creme brulee, instead of my usual sliced banana. :)

Thanks for the entertaining post.

Di said...

What a great post! =) And I thought my life was busy... Yay for husbands who step up to keep things going when moms have crazy work schedules! Oh, and your creme brulee looks wonderful.

Julie said...

Ok, so I was bankrupt in the baking department this week and you and Beckett have gone and made me look like a complete SLACKER for it! I can't believe you two made CREME BRULEE post-petition. What tha.... Anywho, I think y'all firing up the butane in the breakroom was a perfectly acceptable event given the state of affairs in that room. It would have been a normal event if it had actually been the frat house it appeared to be.

Cathy said...

To Julie (of peanutbutterandjulie.blogspot.com fame) - I should have noted in my post that the only reason that you weren't in the breakroom loading torches with us at midnight is because YOU WERE ACTUALLY DOING REAL WORK at the time, and that the only reason that you did not bake this week is because you were in the office from 7:30 a.m. on Sunday until approximately noon on Monday. In light of that, had you made the creme brulee, you would have officially crossed the TWD freak line. Good job staying on the right side of the line . . . for now.

Andrea said...

I'm amazed you were able to get to the brulee with all of that work, my goodness, 25 dealerships?!? I have to admit I'm a little envious of you girls all huddled in your breakroom playing with torches, makes me miss the camaraderie of the working world. Ah well, now is the time for dino nuggest (hangs head in shame, yes, my sweet children know and eat dino nuggets, they just had to have them as we passed the freezers at Sam's Club and who am I to say no?) and other fun stay at home follies. Glad your husband enjoyed the creme brulee, like you I also prefer my desserts with flour. Love your posts :)

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

You're so dedicated! I thought I was the only who has panic attacks about getting her TWD (and Daring Bakers and Cookie Carnival) baking done...LOL! You did a fabulous job,well done!

SUGAR BETTY said...

I love bankruptcy lawyers! They're the "in" thing right now. Hopefully I won't have to meet one anytime soon! ;) Fab job on the creme brulee. It was definitely fun making these babies.

bakingwiththeboys said...

I wasn't in bankruptcy but it does bring back those litigation memories. I still work in a law firm (just don't practice anymore) and there is no baking or butane loading in the break room. The brulees look fabulous. Kudos for getting it done!

Proud Italian Cook said...

25 dealerships! Wow it's scary out there! Creme brulee is my hubbys favorite thing to order out for dessert, since I never tried making it. You've given me inspiration here, and I just gotta have that blow torch!

27Susans said...

You are a multi-tasking wiz with that creme brulee & blow torch.

Did you practice BKR in NY? My cousin, Tina Brozman, was the chief bankruptcy judge.

I decided long ago that I would rather bake cookies than be a divorce attorney.

Jules Someone said...

Woo hoo! Fire! Glad these worked out for you!

Amanda said...

Cathy, Your blog is so popular!! Pretty soon, you will be able to advertise on here. I think I deserve some kind of percentage of all your revenue, since I introduced you to the food blog world....

kim said...

hehe, great post... i love the covert op to get the torch!! you guys are dedicated. glad you liked the end result!!

btw i am a computer programmer, kind of the same stereotype, but more geeky ;)

Prudy said...

Thanks for the J Crew heads up. I forgot all about them. See why I need help so badly? I hope you get un-busy soon since I need more of your posts!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

I love how you squeezed time in to buy a torch and make this dessert! You sound very busy! Great post!

Melissa said...

Your creme brulee is gorgeous. It looks just like Dorie's in the book. Good job! Hope your work is going to let up a little soon and allow you more time for baking... next week's cake looks to die for!

Jacque said...

LOL, I enjoyed reading your writeup, although it probably wasn't very enjoyable for you to have lived it. Glad to hear that busy week is behind you.

Your brulee looks perfect... I would never know you weren't a blow torch expert.

Spike said...

I can't believe you had to bake for 90 minutes! but this looks perfect and worth the wait

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

An interesting blog - good for you being able to work on a demanding career and make beautiful desserts. The pics are lovely.

Matt said...

After working for hours with people who have to declare bankruptcy, you deserve some custardy comforts.

I love the way you and your friend orchestrated the BB and B pick up. I could almost hear the Mission Impossible theme song playing while I imagined her rushing to the store before it closed!

anudivya said...

I have been wanting that torch for a long time now... and the crack of the sugar when cutting into it... love that sound!

First time here, and I like your blog.

 
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