CASA GRANDE — The creamy, rich dessert known as crème brûlée has been around for centuries, since at least the 1700s, so when we ran across an internet recipe that claimed to simplify the sweet, decadent treat, we had to try it.

Crème brûlée is a custard that’s made by combining cream, sugar, eggs and vanilla. The secret to the creaminess comes from baking the concoction slowly in the oven, in a pan with water, then covering the cream with a hard sugar shell.

It’s not technically difficult to do, but it does require careful attention to the custard-making steps to ensure that the the right texture is achieved. Not paying attention can result in a custard that’s more like scrambled eggs rather than a smooth and creamy pudding.

A new technique for making crème brûlée has been trending lately on the internet that includes only three ingredients — vanilla ice cream, an egg and sugar.

It’s quick and easy to do and is perfect for small batches or even a single serving.

The recipe we followed called for melting half a cup of vanilla ice cream, mixing in an egg, then pouring the mixture into a ramekin dish and baking in a pan of water. When it’s finished, the mixture is topped with sugar, which is then broiled or hardened with a torch.

When I made the recipe, I made a batch of four servings so I used two cups of ice cream and three eggs.

Normally, when making crème brûlée, the cream and sugar are heated together on the stove then removed from the heat while the beaten eggs are slowly tempered into the warm mixture, which creates a nice smooth custard.

The ice cream method skips this step.

Following the directions found online, when making ice cream crème brûlée, we melted our ice cream on the counter and then beat in the egg. The mixture was then poured into ramekins and baked in the oven in a pan with hot water.

The custard looked pretty good when we took it out of the oven to add the hard sugar shell. Because we didn’t have a kitchen torch, we broiled the sugar topping for about five minutes. When it was finished, it looked nearly perfect.

Excited, we dug into the crème brûlée with gusto, only to find that the mixture had the consistency of scrambled eggs — not silky smooth texture we had hoped for. The dessert looked and tasted much like you’d expect when mixing scrambled eggs with ice cream. It tasted good, but the texture made it nearly inedible.

If making this dish again, I’d melt the ice cream in the microwave, not on the counter, so that it’s warm when a beaten egg is slowly mixed into the cream. But then, with those added steps, it’s just as easy to stick with the traditional method of making crème brûlée.

3-ingredient crème brûlée

One serving

1/2 cup vanilla ice cream

1 beaten egg

1 tablespoon sugar for topping

Melt ice cream in microwave. Stir. Slowly whisk in one beaten egg.

Pour mixture into oven-safe ramekin dish. Place ramekin dish in a baking pan. Pour hot water into the pan so that it comes about half-way up sides of the ramekin.

Bake at 325 degrees for about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven. Allow to cool then sprinkle with sugar. Caramelize the sugar with a kitchen torch or by broiling for five minutes in the oven.

Traditional crème brûlée

For the custard:

2 cups heavy cream

10 tablespoons sugar, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 egg yolks

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the brûlée topping:

2 teaspoons sugar per ramekin

In a saucepan, heat the custard ingredients — cream, sugar and vanilla. In a bowl, whisk together yolks and some additional sugar. Slowly whisk the warm cream into the yolks.

Divide this custard mixture between several ramekins, place in a hot water bath and bake until the custard is set. Chill the custards for about 30 minutes.

Before serving, sprinkle tops with sugar and caramelize by using a kitchen torch or by broiling for about five minutes.

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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.

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