Crème Brûlée Pie … Luxury for a Crowd!

ImageEVERY YEAR FOR CHRISTMAS I BRING A DESSERT that will, ideally, blow people’s minds.  Last year it was a fresh fruit tart with a cream base (which I hope to create as a new post for you someday), but this year I decided to bust out my kitchen blowtorch and make creme brulee.  This gorgeous, wonderful dessert sounds like you spent ridiculous amounts of time in the kitchen and is far too complicated for the average foodie.  It couldn’t be further from the truth!  First, if you don’t have a blowtorch, you can use your broiler for 2 minutes to caramelize your sugar prior to serving.  Just be sure you cover the edges of your page with aluminum foil to keep from burning the edges of your crust.  Second, this saves on dishes like crazy.  It’s wonderful to not have to play with multiple ramekins in a water bath in the oven.  Lastly, it gives you the chance to use some of that homemade vanilla extract I taught you to make.  😉  Give this recipe a shot… you won’t regret it!

Crème Brûlée Pie

For the crust (or use your favorite baked pie crust recipe… your choice):

  • 35-40 vanilla wafer cookies
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg.

Place the cookies in a gallon freezer bag and smash them into fine crumbs with a rolling pin.  Add the butter, sugar, and nutmeg; mush together the ingredients in the bag until well combined.  Use your hands to press the mixture into a 9″ pie plate.  Set aside.

For the creme custard:

  • 2 TBSP vanilla extract, or 1/2 split vanilla bean with the seeds scraped out
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup half and half, or whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 TBSP sugar
  • A pinch (1/8 tsp) salt

Preheat your oven to 300F.  Combine your heavy cream, half and half, and vanilla in a saucepan.  Heat until it’s just hot, mixing well so it won’t stick and burn to the bottom of your pan.  Set aside to cool at least 30 minutes.  While the cream mixture cools, beat your egg yolks, whole egg, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl until smooth (no egg chunks, please!).  Once your cream is cooler, add 1/4 cup of it to your eggs and mix well to temper them… you don’t want them to scramble accidentally.  Add the eggs into the cream and mix well.  Pour the mixture slowly and carefully into your pie crust.  Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes; your custard should be basically set but wobbly in the center.  This is OK because it will continue to bake as it cools.  Remove the pie and carefully place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Prior to serving, sprinkle the top of the pie with about 2 TBSP of sugar and a little nutmeg (if desired) and move your blowtorch evenly and carefully along the top to brown and caramelize your sugar to make a crispy crust on the top.  If you lack the torch, place the pie (edges covered with aluminum foil) under your broiler for 2 minutes.  Keep an eye on it to be sure the sugar caramelizes instead of burns!

Serve with whipped cream on the side and perhaps a fruit compote.

Merry Christmas, and sweet foodie dreams!

— Sarah

Cranberry-Apple Stuffed Chicken Breast Roast

ImageIN KEEPING WITH SAM’S POST ON CRANBERRIES, I’ve decided to post a recipe that can be done relatively easily but makes for mouth-watering dish that makes any dinner a special occasion.  The long title is the only way I could describe it, but basically what you will do is take boneless, skinless chicken breasts and wrap them around a stuffing that is full of cranberries and apples.  Since I’m all for cutting corners to make cooking easier, feel free to substitute a basic boxed stuffing for the overall stuffing recipe and just spiffy it up with the added celery, apples, and cranberries.  Depending on how you like your stuffing, you can use white bread, cornbread, whole wheat bread… use your imagination!  Don’t be afraid of tying a roast, either… it’s easier than it seems.  🙂  You might find that stuffing is left over or that some falls out.  It’s ok for this to happen; just tuck it to the side of the roast in the pan and you can have extra available for those who want it.  My family loved this recipe and would like to have it again!

Cranberry-Apple Stuffed Chicken Breast Roast

For the stuffing you will need:

  • 3 cups dry, unseasoned bread cubes
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 medium, tart apple that’s been cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tsp. poultry seasoning (or use 1/2 tsp. each of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme)
  • Apple juice or apple cider

For the roast:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  Use a mallet and pound them to about 1/2″ – 1″ thick
  • Butcher’s twine
  • Toothpicks
  • Panko breadcrumbs

Assemble all the stuffing ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Add a little apple cider/juice to your stuffing mixture to just moisten it to the point that it starts to stick together.  Don’t make it too soggy or else the texture won’t be great when it comes out of the oven.

Lay your flattened chicken breasts side-by-side on some plastic wrap, overlapping them slightly so there are few gaps.  I would suggest that you place a wide end overlapping with a narrow end to give you some uniformity.  Spread your stuffing mixture from one side of your breasts to the other, making an even layer.  Using your plastic wrap to help you, roll the breasts over the stuffing jelly-roll style, tucking in your stuffing as you go.  Don’t worry if it looks a little messy, this is ok.  Cut 3 lengths of butcher’s twine approximately 24″ long each.  Slide the twine under your roll and bring the ends up to the top of the roast and tie them together securely with a knot.  Place a length of twine at either end of the roast and one in the middle.  Tuck in any stuffing that may have fallen out and seal the ends of the roast with toothpicks inserted through the meat, if desired.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Place your roast seam-side down in your baking pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper, followed by sprinkling with panko breadcrumbs.  Dot the top of the roast with butter, if desired, and add a little wine or chicken stock to the bottom of your baking pan for moisture (think 1/4 cup roughly).  Bake uncovered for approximately 60 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the roll (and yes, into the stuffing) reads 165 degrees and juices run clear.  Remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to stand for 15-20 minutes before cutting.

Enjoy, and happy cooking!

— Sarah