Vanilla Custard TWO ways: Creme Brûlée-ish and Fruit Tart

This past Valentines I made my husband and myself Chocolate Pots de Creme.  We both loved it and best of all it was two serving sizes-- two 5 oz ramekins.  My husband thought it was super rich though so he would have preferred an even smaller size!  So my brain got to thinking how can I make this different?  And we now have a creme brûlée of sorts and a Fruit Tart or something that resembles one.  They are smaller as my husband requested but I used the same recipe and just split it 6 ways.  Want all the goodness for yourself and one other?  Break out the 5 oz ramekins and skip the mini graham cracker pies.

Before I go any farther, please don't think you are going to make this the same time you make dinner and have it all chilled for dessert.  These babies need at least 4 hours in the fridge to set BUT you could make them up to 3 days ahead so choose when you start wisely!

To start you need 2 egg yolks, 4 teaspoons of sugar, a pinch of salt (I like kosher salt) and a whisk.  Remember these are small portions so either hand mixer or hand whisk.  Think of it as burning calories so you can have some rich yummy dessert without having the guilt of needing to work out the next day if you are having to hand whisk.

Combine.  You will initially think you are all done when the yolks are mixed in the with the sugar and it looks like this.  BUT... aren't.  KEEP MIXING.  You want it to be smooth no grainy-ness left from the sugar.  You KNOW you are done when the mixture lightens slightly in color and is smooth.

Now add 3/4 cup heavy cream.  And whisk together.

Now move the mixture to a small sauce pan.  If you have an instant read thermometer, have it near by.  Also either QUICKLY clean the bowl you were using and dry it and set up a strainer in it or grab a new bowl and set up the strainer.

Medium-LOW heat while stirring with a wooden spoon constantly, scraping the bottom of the pot, for 3 to 6 minutes or until the thermometer reads between 175 and 180 degrees (DO NOT let the custard over cook or simmer).  No thermometer, gauge done-ness when the custard has thickened a bit and is silky. (I made an oops and my reading got a little high.)

Off the heat and to the strainer.  You can skip the strainer but your custard may then have clumps in it.  Your choice.

Stir in 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (and if you want 1/8 teaspoon instant coffee dissolved in 1 teaspoon of water.)

Almost done!  Pour into your vessels of choosing.  I chose mini graham cracker pies.  Again if you want a more generous sized dessert for just two pull out two 5-oz ramekins and use those!  Or you could use fancy glasses or plastic tupperware,  really the choice is all yours.  Though if you are planning on making a brulee chose something that can safety go under the broiler!

Now the hard part.  Let them cool to room temp.  Cover and refrigerate for minimum 4 hours.

Now this is the choose your own adventure part of this dessert. Fruit or sugar?
I'll start with fruit.
Take about a tablespoon of strawberry spread or jelly (or whatever fruit jelly you have in the fridge) place in a small bowl and microwave for 10 to 15 seconds.  Just until its warm and liquidy.

Then toss about a cup of fruit into that same bowl and stir making your fruit all pretty and glazed (of which I forgot to take a photo).  I used raspberries, blueberries, and cut strawberries.  Then dish out to your awaiting custard.

Where's the whipped topping?!!
Well take 1/4 cup of cream and put it into a bowl.  If you bought the small thing of heavy whipping cream it's the last of what's in the container after using 3/4 cup for the custard recipe, yay for using it all. Add a teaspoon of maple syrup (more or less if you want it more sweet or less sweet).

Now either you are lucky and have a hand mixer or you are me and have to hand whisk... again.  I like my whipped topping to be more on the hard peaks size of things so my arm feels like it wants to fall off when I'm done.  So worth it when I finally get to eat.

What you don't want fruit?  Or you want more than just fruit?  Sugar then.
Top your custard with a good layer of sugar.  I used my raw cane sugar here and about 1 to 2 teaspoons.

Fire up the broiler on the oven. And watch it carefully!

Finish with a crunchy topping.  Since this custard is not as thick a quick pop into the freezer or a long rest in the fridge uncovered post broiling should help it set back up if it gets all liquidy on you.

And there you have it two desserts, one custard!
Happy Eating!

Vanilla Custard 
2 Large Egg Yolks
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon instant coffee dissolved in 1 teaspoon water (optional)
6 ready crust mini graham cracker pies (or two 5oz ramekins)

Fruit Topping (for 3 "pies" you can easily double)
1 Tablespoon fruit spread
1 cup fruit (berries are a good mix)

Whipped Topping
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon maple syrup

Brûlée version
1-2 teaspoons per "pie" Turbinado Sugar

Vanilla Custard
1.Whisk egg yolks, granulated sugar, and salt together in medium bowl until throughly combined (look for the color to change slightly and all the sugar should be dissolved).
2. Whisk in heavy cream.
3.  Transfer mixture to small sauce pan.  Grab instant read thermometer and set up another bowl with strainer to the side.
4.  Cook mixture over medium low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, until thickened and silky (temp reading between 175 and 180).  Should take 3 to 6 minutes.  Don't overcook the custard or let it come to a simmer.
5. Immediately pour custard through the strainer into the bowl set aside earlier.
6. Add vanilla extract and optional coffee.
7. Divide between pies or ramekins and allow to cool to room temperature.
8.  Cover and refrigerate for minimum 4 hours or up to 3 days.

Fruit Topping
1. Warm fruit spread in a bowl in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds.
2.  Mix in fruit covering in the spread which serves as a glaze.
3. Top pies

Whipped Topping
1. Add cream and maple syrup to bowl and whisk until cream forms the peaks of your choice soft or hard.
2. Dollop each fruit pie with about a tablespoon (you will have left over cream to use with as you will)

1. Turn broiler onto high
2. Top each pie with 1-2 teaspoons of sugar.
3.  Place pie on cookie sheet and under broiler watch for the sugar to melt and start browning.  Then pull out!
4.  Quick trip to the freezer or long soak in the fridge may be needed to help re-set custard.

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