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Capital Grille Creme Brulee

By Todd Wilbur

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For years now I've been on the lookout for a great chain restaurant crème brulee to clone for one of my books, but I hadn't located a really fantastic formula to hack until I tried this one. The Capital Grille's Classic Crème Brulee is a perfect blend of sweet and creamy with amazing flavor that comes from real vanilla bean. If you want an easy dessert to impress that you can prepare a day or two in advance of the sit-down, this is your recipe. When it comes time to serve the brulee, sprinkle each serving with a little white sugar and caramelize it with a small chef's torch (if you don't already have one, you can find them online or at kitchen stores for around 15 bucks). Add a garnish of fresh seasonal berries plus a sprig of mint, and serve up the goodness. 

Source: Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step by Todd Wilbur.

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  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Fresh seasonal berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, sliced strawberries)
  • Mint leaves
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    • Instructions

      1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

      2. Combine the cream with the vanilla bean and the pulp in a small saucepan over medium/high heat and cook, stirring, until the cream begins to bubble, then turn off the heat. Cover the pan and let it sit for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean after the cream cools and strain the cream.

      3. Beat the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl with a wire whisk or electric beater for about 1 minute, until thick and creamy and light yellow in color. Add the cream a little bit at a time while stirring gently so as not to make any bubbles. If there is any foam on top of your liquid wait until most of it goes away, then transfer the liquid to 4 crème brulee dishes or ramekins.

      4. Arrange the dishes or ramekins in a roasting pan and place it in the oven. Add hot water to the pan until it is about halfway up the side of the dishes or ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or just until the brulee is set and no longer jiggles in the center. Carefully remove the dishes from the hot water, cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

      5. To prepare for serving, remove the crème brulee from the fridge and sprinkle each serving with about 1/2 tablespoon of sugar. Shake the dish back and forth to evenly spread the sugar over the top of the brulee. Use a chef's torch in a sweeping motion to caramelize the sugar on top until crispy and brown. Let the crème brulee sit for a couple of minutes so that the sugar cools, then sprinkle the dessert with a handful of fresh berries and a mint leaf and serve.

      Makes 4 servings.

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