Mon Chéri

Crème Brûlée is one of those classic French desserts that screams fancy Valentine's Day to me.  You see it in almost every romantic comedy and you've probably always secretly wanted to make it yourself...but it's a French dessert and you didn't go to pastry school and what makes you qualified to tackle such a daunting dessert?!?!?  Let me be the first to tell you that googling the correct spelling and placement of the accents is more difficult than making this dessert.  Believe me.  

The Mon Chéri is the S&T version of crème brûlée: bourbon soaked cherries covered in an almond custard with the classic burnt sugar topping that is just so much fun to crack.  One of the best things about this dessert is that the custard can be prepared the day before, then all you have to do before serving, is throwing it in the broiler to burn the sugar topping (or use a torch if you're extra fancy).

Yield: 4 desserts

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cherries, pitted (we used frozen because it's not cherry season)
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Soak the cherries: Thaw cherries (if using frozen) and soak in bourbon for an hour, up to overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 F.  Take a large saucepan and fill it with water and set over medium-high heat on the stove.  Let water come to a boil.
  3. In a medium saucepan, heat heavy cream, vanilla extract, and almond extract until hot, but not boiling.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar until combined.  Once cream mixture is hot, slowly add the egg mixture.  Stir continuously so that the yolks do not scramble.
  5. Put four ramekins in a large roasting pan and pour the hot water into the pan until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Drain cherries and place in a single layer in the bottom of each ramekin.  Evenly divide the egg-cream mixture between the four ramekins and pour the egg-cream mixture over the cherries.
  6. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the custard is set but still a little jiggly in the middle.  Remove the ramekins from the hot water bath and allow to cool to room temperature.  Once cool, cover each ramekin with plastic wrap for at least 3 hours, up to 3 days.
  7. When you're ready to serve, remove ramekins from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Spread a tablespoon of granulated sugar on top of each ramekin and place under the broiler to melt the sugar.  You will start to smell the sugar and it will turn a light caramel color when it is done.  Make sure you don't completely burn it.  You can also use a torch for this step.
  8. Let each crème brûlée cool (at least 5 minutes) and then serve!