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In the epic Modernist Cuisine, Nathan Myhrvold and co. take a deep dive into coffee and determine that the cold brew technique is perfect for infusing cream and dairy. And if you are going to infuse cream with coffee beans, you need to make Creme Brulee.
This recipe makes 2 brulees, and can be easily double or tripled. I used ramekins that hold about 2/3 c. of custard.
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. coffee beans
2 egg yolks
2 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Sugar or brown sugar to caramelize on top
Place the coffee and cream in a glass jar or bowl with a lid. They can be whole, or you can crush them to break them up a little. Let steep in the refrigerator for 20-24 hours, swirling occasionally. Strain out coffee.
Preheat the oven to 300 F. Heat the cream just to a simmer in a saucepan. In a separate heatproof bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar.
Slowly add warm cream to the egg yolk mixture, whisking continuously. Add the cream slowly at first to avoid scrambling the eggs.
Return the entire mixture to the saucepan and stir 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened.
Divide the cream into ramekins and place in a water bath. Bake for 25-35 minutes for shallow ramekins and 30-40 minutes for deeper ramekins. They should be set and not jiggle too much when done. Remove from the oven and chill thoroughly.
To serve, remove chilled creme brulees from the fridge and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle a thin coating of sugar or brown sugar over each (about 2 tsp. each for each custard). If you have a kitchen torch, briefly torch the sugar until lightly browned and caramelized.
If you don’t have a torch, place the baking sheet with the ramekins under the broiler just until the sugar starts to bubble and turn caramel colored. This method warms the brulee more than the torch method, so you may want to re-chill these for 10-20 minutes before serving, if you can wait that long.
Using coffee infused cream in desserts takes a little extra effort, but this dessert got rave reviews from my tasters, with a gentle mocha twist on a revered classic.