Dessert Duo

pumpkin carving 020Who can resist the creamy custard and crunching topping of creme brulee or the soft and chewy center of a French Macaroon with a smooth chocolate ganache filling.

These two desserts were ment to be made together.  Why you ask? It’s all about the eggs. Creme brulee uses only yolks and macaroons use only whites, a match made in heaven. If you make the creme brulee first it can chill in the fridge while you make the macaroons. Although some recipes I have seen swear by letting the egg whites “ripen” overnight at room temp.  I am way too impatient to wait that long, and a little leery as well.

I used the creme brulee recipe from The New Classics from Martha Stewart, because I could not find the recipe that I used in my Plated Dessert class in culinary school; and the macaroons from the same titled book from Love Food Publishers.

Creme brulee is one of the easiest desserts that can be made, other than no bake items, there are however two things to master in this recipe.  Patience, you cannot boil your cream, or eggs or you are eating sweet scrambled eggs. The second is safety, the crunchy caramel topping requires the use of a blow torch.  I admit that I was more than a little intimidated when first using a blow torch, however, with careful handling I have not had anything bad happen, ie (fires or horrible burns).

The macaroons can be another story, it depends on how picky you are about how they look.  To master them there are many tips that will make the “feet” perfect, but if you are just willing to compromise with the perfection issue, you will still end up with some pretty good tasting macaroons. The only reason I say this is that is that it may take a few tries before your macaroons even come close to those you see in the cook books. They are in essence a meringue and are governed by the sugar rules; humidity and timing and temperature being the top few.

Creme Brulee Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/2 cup sugar, plus 6 T for sprinkling (although I like a more coarse sugar for this)
5 large egg yolks


  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Have a baking sheet and 4 shallow 6-ounce ramekins ready to fill.
  2. Heat the cream, vanilla bean and scraping  in a sauce pan until bubbles start to appear around the edge of the pan.  Do Not Let Boil. Set aside and let steep while preparing the yolks.
  3. Whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the yolks in a bowl large enough to hold both mixtures.  Slowly add the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks while whisking continually.
  4. Strain the mixture into a container with a spout (glass liquid measure).
  5. Here is where Martha and I depart from the directions.  I put my sheet pan with the empty ramekins in the oven, on the middle rack, pulled out so that I can pour the custard directly into them.  I find that I do not spill as much custard and water this way, and I don’t burn myself. Then fill the sheet pan with hot water half way up the sides of the ramekins. This insulates them and helps keep the edges from getting overdone while the center cooks.
  6. Another little tricky part here, but when you learn the signs it is very simple. Bake the custards until the center is set.  I test it by tapping a butter knife on the side of the ramekins.  If there is any rings, like when you skip stones in a pond, it’s not done. If the custard moves as one blob, no rings, its done. Take them out of the water bath individually with a sturdy spatula and cool on a rack or in my case a granite countertop. This takes about 30-35 minutes. Due to hot spots in ovens, some may be done before others.
  7. Once cooled to room temp, chill for at least 2 hours in refrigerator.  It must be completely cool when you torch the sugar or you have soup instead of custard.
  8. Martha adds the step of putting the ramekins in the freezer before you start the brulee process, (that means burnt sugar by the way), this is just a fail safe for your custard to stay cool.  Sprinkle the sugar on the top of each custard and shake of the excess.  I also wipe off the edges to prevent burnt sugar on the sides.
  9. When all of the custards have been prepped like this, start your torch, follow the directions for your model, and holding it a couple of inches from the surface of the sugar, in circular motion melt the sugar.  If you hold it in one place too long, you will get burnt sugar instead of caramelized sugar, and hot custard, not good eating.
  10. Eat it right away.  If you don’t plan on eating them all right away, don’t brulee the tops.  It just becomes syrup in the fridge.

For the macaroons, see my previous post on how to do them, I substituted half of the almond flour for hazelnut flour and instead of italian buttercream center I made ganache.

Ganache Ingreadients

1 lb of great chocolate of choice ( yes you can even use white if that delights you)
2 cups of heavy cream


  1. Heat the heavy cream in a sauce pan until bubbles start to form on the side of the pan.  Do not boil.
  2. Pour over the chocolate in a heat safe bowl and let set for a minute.  Then using a whisk mix until a smooth batter, with no chocolate pieces left.
  3. Set aside and let set up.  It may take a couple of hours at room temp, so you could do this step the night before you decide to make the macaroons.
  4. This is a fairly stiff ganache.  You could use this to make truffles, just scoop some into a ball shape and dredge in cocoa or dip in tempered chocolate, that is another post, or dip strawberries in it. You could loosen it up with a little more heavy cream and  serve it over icecream, use it as a fondue, add it to your coffee, pore over a finished cake, etc. so very versatile.


stephslyter View All →

I’m a wife, mother, pastry chef and amatuer gardner. I travel as much as possible, can what I grow, and taste as many new things as possible.

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