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Creme Brulee with Candied Peaches

If I happen to stumble upon a roadside sign for tree-ripened peaches, you can bet your bottom dollar I’m pulling over and bogarting the whole lot. In light of summer’s last gasp, I’ve been stocking up on September produce, single-handedly keeping Big Peach in business. Thanks to my surplus, I’ve been adding these sweet, juicy stone fruits to just about everything – a tomato, avocado and carrot-ginger salad? Sure, why not. Broiled and paired wtih Edy’s Vanilla Ice Cream? I’d be insane not to. Sliced thin and candied atop classic Creme Brulee? Clearly I’m a genius.

So that’s what I’ve got for you today. Creme Brulee is so easy to make (and so dangerous for your waistline), but the custard for this fancy-pants French treat can be prepared well in advance of whatever you’re celebrating, even if it’s only Monday Night Football. I found this out the hard way. I had whipped it up on Saturday when my husband and I were out in Long Island with my mom, but since I forgot my camera, I realized I had to transport it back into the city before “bruleeing” it and staging its photo shoot. Did this delicate little dessert suffer for the unexpected rain delay? Not a lick. In fact, I licked the ramekin clean. Bon appetite!

PS: As I note in my topping instructions below, the juiciness of the peach slices will soften your crispy brulee ever so slightly, but honestly, it’s worth it. Nothing beats a gently broiled peach. And once stone fruits are hard to find, sub in super-finely sliced apples.

Creme Brulee with Candied Peaches
Serves 4

6 egg yolks – stock
½-cup sugar – stock
1/8 teaspoon salt – stock
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract – stock
2 cups heavy cream – $2.99
12 teaspoons brown sugar – stock
1 ripe peach sliced very thinly (an apple would also work) – $0.90
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $3.89
Cost per serving: $0.97

Directions for the Creme/Custard:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat the heavy cream to a simmer (so it’s steaming, but not boiling). Stir frequently so you don’t burn the bottom. Once hot, transfer to a heat-safe container with a spout for easy pouring (like a pyrex measuring glass)

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, ½-cup sugar, salt and vanilla extract until well combined.

4. Slowly pour the hot milk into the yolk mixture whisking until just combined.

5. Pour the creme into four ramekins, dividing evenly. Place the ramekins in a roasting pan and add water to the pan so it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. This is called a bain marie

6. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean/the custard jiggles a bit when moved but isn’t soupy

7. Use potholders to remove the ramekins from the water bath and set aside on the counter to cool for 30 minutes.

8. Transfer to the fridge and let the custard set for at least 3 hours or up to two days.

Directions for the Topping:
1. Prepare the topping when you’re ready to serve it so it stays crisp. Arrange the sliced peaches on top of the custard and then cover with a coating of brown sugar.

2. Preheat the broiler and once hot, place the ramekins underneath the flame for about 2 minutes, or until the sugar caramelizes.

3. Remove from heat and chill for about 10 minutes before serving (this allows the sugar to set). The natural juices from the peaches will soften the brulee just a bit, but the flavor is well worth it…