Leite Creme — In Defense of Creme Brulee & “Normal” Desserts

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The other day I was sitting in a Starbucks, clacking away on my laptop while waiting for the train (OH GOD I HAVE BECOME WHAT I HATE), and some random dude next to me saw me updating this very blog.

“Haha, so are you a writer or something?” he asks. There’s something so weirdly awkward when people laugh first before they speak. I’ve noticed this mainly happens to be a male thing to seem non-threating or something.
“Uhh, no?”
“Then if you’re not a writer, why are you typing?” Oh fuck, well Mr. Observant got me there!
“Well, I run a little baking blog. I mean it’s no big deal, I only have like 100 followers.” I responded cheerfully, because even when I’m depressed I’m a fucking bright ball of sunshine, mothafuckas.
“Oh wow, that’s so cool! So what’s your favorite dessert?”
“Well, this is going to be dorky, but… well, I’d have to say it’s creme brulee.”

CRICKETS CRICKETS

He stared at me, blinked for a second too many, and opened his mouth “That’s a really boring answer for somebody who writes a food blog.”
“Oh haha, yeah I guess.” fuck he’s so right.

Dejectedly I turned back to my laptop, sadly typing away my post; caught the train after that, and never really thought about it again until very recently.

Why does Creme Brulee come off as a “boring” dessert anyway? Is it because it’s a simply flavored one? Just cream in a pot, flavored with vanilla, and burnt sugar on top; I suppose that one could see this as pretty plain.

But why? Why would people consider it to be boring? Is it because it’s so overplayed? Is it the “fancy” dessert of lesser tounged people? Because you can imagine your crazy cat aunt scarfing them down at a wedding and feeling yourself nauseated by it? The slurp crunch slurp of her almost feline like lips smacking together while she talks about how classy your cousin’s wedding is.

We all know that “Crème brûlée” was invented in France. Even if you didn’t, looking at all of the extra accents, (why do the accents face different ways? Why does the “u” have a hat??) and one can very easily surmise it’s… well, French.

Instead of boring you with more creme brulee posts, I mean, who would ever make so many different creme brulee desserts? I’ve decided to sex it up and do a…. drum roll please… Portuguese Version of the dessert!!

Did I surprise you??

Of course, I did.

That’s why you keep coming back: irregular consistency.

Just a few personal notes about the differences between the French version and the Portuguese version. They’re really only the same because they are cream and sugar based. The main profile, you know, the soul of the creme brulee being the vanilla, is completely absent in the Portuguese version.

For some reason, vanilla is almost never used in Portuguese baking… like ever. Instead of vanilla, it’s lemon juice since it follows 2 parts of the whole Portuguese trio of baking: Sugar, Water, and Cinnamon.

Picture celestial light, and you’ll get how important these three flavors are to the cuisine.

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Another super major MAJOR awesome note about all of this? It has all of the taste and texture of a thick, smooth and creamy egg custard but none of the baking in a bain marie bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against Marie, she’s a cool chick with a hot temper, but I ain’t always got time to deal with her bullshit and this dessert preparation cuts baking time DOWN.

I didn’t originally plan to make this; honestly, I was looking for a quick creme brulee for one (as if that’s even possible). I kept frustratingly searching for recipe after recipe for “solo creme brulee” but they all made me feel like a sad single wine drinker which isn’t even far from the truth, as always. Drowning my tears out with wine isn’t conducive to handling a fucking bain marie, ok? This COMPLETELY cuts out ever even baking the damn dessert, and it just goes straight from pot to plate to fridge to your face. That’s the order of how all things should be.

This dessert idea materialized when I told my ma I was super frustrated from looking up creme brulee desserts.
“Why not make a leite creme?” she asked. Nasty bitch me was like “ugh whatever mom” because even being 24 doesn’t stop you from rolling your eyes and being a pain in the ass.

But after looking it up and mulling it over, I thought FUCK-IT LET’S DO THIS BABY!!!!!!!

After much Pinterest hunting (not really) I found this recipe from this actually amazing and famous Portuguese blogger Cinco Quartos de Laranja. She dressed hers up to look more like a creme brulee with the small little pots when traditionally you serve this big bad sucker in a huge tray, fam style.


Leite Creme

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • ~2/3 cups (160g) white sugar
  • 8 egg yolks {Think of all of the egg white omelettes you’ll be eating!}
  • ~3 tbsp{?} (50g) ap flour
  • peel of whole lemon
  • lots of extra sugar, to burn

Instructions:

  1. Okay, so get your sweet ass ready for this like 20-minute dessert, friends. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, crack out 8 egg yolks (try not to cry too hard when you feel guilty about using so much) and toss in your sugar. Have that beat for a little until it starts to look pale and fluffy.

  2. While eggs are getting to know the sugar biblically, bring to boil a pot of the milk and lemon peel. Just drop that sucker right in there. Keep your eye on it, because you want it to come to a rolling boil, but not burn the milk. Please don’t. Unlike in some desserts where you can sort of get away with shit being slightly burned, with this you cannot escape the burnt flavor.

  3. So while your cold ass milk starts rollin’ up, check out the fluffy egg yolk + sugar mixture. Turn off the beating for a second, and sift in all of the flour. Yes, sift. I mean it. Often times I hate sifting because it feels like foo-foo busy work for fancy pants people who have things like “time”, “patience” and “passion to their craft”, but seriously, this is im-por-tan-tay. If you don’t, you might end up with chunks of unmixed flour in your custard, and honestly? Das gross.

  4. Once you’re all sifted in, I like to fold the flour in a little bit, start to really work it in before putting it back on to mixing. Check once you think it’s all mixed in just to be sure it’s all perfectly whisked. You don’t want to overmix because it’s like a cardinal sin of baking or something.

  5. At this point, your milk should be just about to boil or is currently boiling. Pluck out the lemon peels, and put them to the side just before it starts hitting that temp. Once that sucker starts rollin’ rollin’ rollin’, take the pot over to your stand mixer, and with it beating on like medium, slowly pour in the milk, pausing for a second or two for the milk to warm up the eggs without scrambling them. THIS IS IMPORTANT. DO NOT POUR IT ALL IN, YOUR EGGS WILL SCRAMBLE !!! !!!
    But since this dessert is supa dupa simple, that won’t happen to u. I have faith if I can do it, other people can always do it better.

  6. Once all of the hot milk has been added to the egg mixture, beat it for a second or so more, and finally pour it all back into the pot. Add the lemon peel back in for an extra taste. Bring that pot to a slow boil on no higher than medium heat. Get out your flexin’ arm, and work that shit out. You’re gonna be whisking vigorously until you notice the mixture is finally starting to thicken. Switch that shit over to a wooden spoon, and pluck out the lemon peels. Keep stirring until it’s thick enough to part when you swipe the bottom of the pan.

  7. You want your mixture to be thick, but not overly thick. Just creamy goodness guys. Men know how much I love creamy goodness. 😉
    Okay now don’t look at me that way!! All of the men I’ve dated knows my love of creamy desserts, okay??
    Yes, and I made a dick joke too because I can’t help myself.

  8. Now you have the option of pouring your dessert into little ramekins (which makes it look like a creme brulee), or more traditionally, some large wide shallow plate. I basically used a glass fruit plate, because that’s what mamma has always done, and dammit, it’s good enough for me too.

  9. Kind of shake it out a little to smooth it out. Now you just put it in the fridge for a little bit. I mean it doesn’t even actually have to be served cold. Room temp is cool too.

  10. Once your leite creme gets to your desired temp, sprinkie-dinkie some sugar all over it and use your shitty little butane hand torch and cripple your hands in the process of bruleeing for so fucking long. The sugar should be burnt and glassy. Be heavy handed with the sugar. I so far to even sprinkle more sugar over already torched spots because I love a very crisp crunchy crust.
    Note: Just eat this sucker like ASAP. Similarly to a creme brulee, the sugar starts to weep and fuck with your vibe. 😒


    Fun Fact: There is a very special spiral iron used just for burning leite creme in Portugal. Maybe other countries use it, who knows?

    Either way, I’ve used it before, but sadly do not own one. It’s fucking fantastic, you basically take the grid off your gas stove, crank that flame up, and stick the spiral right in the flames. Once it heats up, you basically just gently touch the sugar, and smoke, fire and Cthulhu all spring forth from your dessert with a satisfying deep sizzle.
    Basically, it’s all of the love of grilling minus any of the meat, coals or hard work.

    Also, honestly, this shit is better than my little baby butane lighter. Let’s start the revolution!! Let’s brand our creme brulees!!

     photo 1-e1_zpswwo97dfg.jpgThe sweet sweet smells of childhood

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    There’s just something so wonderful about a burnt sugar glass surface. It sort of looks like the skin of an alien planet floating along in deep space, only to be discovered by your powerful telescope. Cakes can always almost look the same if you keep making the same cake with the same ingredients, but burnt sugar never ever burns in the same way. It’s beautiful, almost like a little snowflake.

    Every time you burn sugar, you are creating a complete and unique piece of art.

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    Until you take it at this angle and it looks like cheese.

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    And there you have it, the complete package: lemony little thickened cream layered with the crunchiest sugar layer. There’s nothing in the world as satisfying as cracking into a burnt sugar dessert.

    That’s something Amelie can attest to.

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15 thoughts on “Leite Creme — In Defense of Creme Brulee & “Normal” Desserts

    • Creme Brulees are important!! Think of all of the amazing flavor changes you can make to it? How can somebody look at you in the face and say “wow that’s boring”, somebody who’s only had shitty CBs their whole life. Pah! He does not know the error of his ways!

    • I know right?? Seriously, if you don’t even like vanilla, you can basically flavor it with ANYTHING. Lavender? Sure why the hell not?? Honey? Hell yes! Earl grey? Mangoes? ANYTHING!! ❤ All hail the creme brulee, the humble dessert shall inherit the earth.

    • Creme Brulee, even when it’s shitty, it’s still not so bad. I mean how gross can cooked sweetened cream with toasted sugar on top suck? Seriously? Unless it is curdled, eggy or whatever. Saving major baking errors, how can it ever be really bad?? 😂

  1. Love it, love it love it!! I think I might be that crazy aunt. Maybe not since I only have one cat and my dog is huge, not a tiny littly barky bitey one. Hmmm, I AM under the quota of cats allowed for one of my age. I think there’s a rule of thumb. And that young man? *F* him! Creme brule rules and this looks even better!!!

    Mollie

  2. Crema catalana is similar in that it also calls for lemon (and cinnamon, but I have also seen recipes with vanilla) and it has its own branding iron instead of having to cramp your hand with a crappy butane torch. One of my friends ended up getting one of the good ones you can find at the hardware store and it does such a better job.

    • Yeah! I love those irons!! Sadly, since it’s only really used on leite creme, and my mother is like deathly afraid of dairy, she never invested in one. 😰

      It would make sense that creama catalana would be super similar. The Iberians are like constantly pissed off lovers that mutually exist, but don’t admit they like each other, while constantly exchanging desserts and wine with one another. 😂

      I do like the idea of cinnamon though!! I’ll have to go and poke around and investigate now. Thanks for the tip! 😘

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