08 July 2010
The problem with creme brulee
My problem with creme brulee has less to do with the dessert and more to do with the restaurants that serve it. Every chef who's worth a damn (and even a chef who is not) should be able to make a perfect creme brulee. It's the easiest of all recipes and - having only four ingredients - it's pretty tough to screw up. Or so I thought.
So what bugs me is going to a restaurant and having their "signature" dessert be the creme brulee. I'm all for having it there to round out the menu. It requires very little effort and is good for picky diners. Because, let's be honest, who doesn't love it? But don't pretend like yours is something special.
I used to occasionally order the creme brulee at restaurants. And then I realized that there is a lot of shit out there. And that made me mad. So now I forgo the custard. Unless, of course, I'm in France. If I'm at a legitimate ritzy restaurant they should really have a unique dessert. If they do not, then I eat the cheese.
I once worked at a restaurant that made coffee creme brulee. It was one of their signature desserts. Sounds fine, right? Until I was tasked with making it and learned that it was made with - wait for it - half and half. They seem to have forgotten that it is creme brulee. When I asked if it was a typo, they informed me that it was to offer a lighter alternative. Hey, I'm all for lighter alternatives. That's what the fruit plate is for.
Shortcuts rarely make food better. Use real cream. Use a real vanilla bean. You'll thank yourself. Just be prepared to always order the cheese.