Glorious Descent

Glorious Descent
Acrylic on canvas 60 x 40cm

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Crying over Creme Brulee

Crème brûlée French for "burnt cream".A dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. Although often served cold in North America, traditionally it is to be served warm. The custard base is traditionally flavoured with vanilla, but is also sometimes flavored with lemon or orange (zest), rosemary, chocolate, coffee, liqueurs, fruits, and even spices such as ginger. The exact origins of this dish are unknown, though the earliest known reference to it is in François Massialot's 1691 cookbook.

Today in the work place, I was ordered to perform any artists worst nightmare (or should I add the gourmet, hungry artist). Crack the tops of millions of individual creme brulee deserts then shovel the contents into the bin ! Blasphemy ! It was purely torturous ! The experience of a creme brulee is supposed to be a deliciously sweet, acoustic and textured ritual, going something like this:
One takes the spoon and smashes the toffee ever so poignantly, so that the smooth hard surface cracks and teases one with the promise of something beneath.
Then, the spoon is inverted and in one strategic insertion and rotation of the wrist, a perfect proportion of custard and toffee is drawn. When in the mouth the toffee chatters on one's teeth yet is soothed by the melting of the cold custard.
It ultimately does go down a sweet treat.
But alas, here I stood, before the mouth of a giant otto bin, nearly in tears as I shovelled out the desert as if it were were yellow mucous. Utterly horrified by the waste, and carnage and the predicament of being 'paid' to do such a thing, the creme brulee became exactly that: nothing more than mucous, a substance, my experience of food irrefutably tarnished forever.

But, just when you think it can't get any worse, it does. When Creme Brulee basically consists of eggs and sugar, there can be some consolation in the loss of only basic ingredients. But when handed a platter of smoked salmon sandwiches, I simply could not be consoled by anything ! My pay packet can't even factor in one piece of salmon on the weekly grocery budget, yet here I was throwing it out ! With one ravenous swoop I took a sandwich in my bear hands and sunk my teeth in.... Heaven......
Unfortunately I had my eyes closed at this point, savouring the mouthful, and didn't observe the floor manager march right up to me and glare down at me disapprovingly.
"The food goes in the bin" I heard bellowed at me.
''This sandwich is too delicious not to see the walls of my mouth'' I replied.

Not sure why I still have a job.

Creme Brulee:

8 egg yolks
50g sugar
600ml cream
1 vanilla pod
caster sugar

Mix yolks and sugar together.

Bring cream and vanilla pod to the boil. Remove the pod and scrapes its insides into the cream. Now mix the cream into the yolks and sugar.

Transfer back into the saucepan and cook until the moisture coats the back of the spoon. Be careful not to curdle the mixture.

Divide the mixture into 6 (7.5cm) ramekins or moulds. Sit these in a roasting tin and add warm water until it comes three-quarters up the sides of the ramekins. Cook in a pre-heated oven (180C) for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Refrigerate until ready.

To finish the brulees, sprinkle them liberally with caster sugar. If you have a blow torch, use that to brown the sugar. If not, brown the sugar under a pre-heated grill, having the ramekins as close as possible to the heat. The top should be hard and when cracked with the spoon will give a wonderful contrast to the creamy bottom.


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