Ahh, cream - crème, is there anything better? What a great and versatile dessert substance: crème caramel, crème anglaise, crème brulée, pots de crème - and the list goes on. The French certainly have it right, one can even buy prepared crème anglaise and crème brulée in the most mundane of Parisian grocery stores! A friend of mine, who happens to be French, gave me her very large ice cream maker when she moved to a smaller house. It cannot be stored in any position but level, therefore it sits on my counter year-round, taking up a great deal of space. To justify its presence, I feel the need to make ice cream and sorbets frequently - and my kids love it.
The base that I use for ice cream is basically a crème anglaise.
1 liter of cream (18% M.F. or there abouts)
1 cup white sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
6 egg yolks
Combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla and heat until boiling. Remove from heat, let cool a few minutes and wisk in the egg yolks one at a time. Return to medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Remove vanilla pod, scraping the seeds into the mixture. This mixture can be used as an ice-cream base, set in ramekins in a bain-marie for crème brulée, or pots de crème. For crème caramel, make a caramel from sugar and water and pour into ramekins or a mold and let harden before adding the cream base - then bake in a bain-marie until set.
Food and beverage photographer Michael Kohn, www.michaelkohn.com, contacted me recently - he wanted to create some crème brulées shots. We came up with the above photos, a selection of just-the-right-amount size ramekins; and an unctuous spoonful complete with caramel shards, a raspberry and a hint of mint. I used the crème anglaise base in order to make these brulées.