Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée for Leonidas.

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee

 

 

In a Vietnamese family, the Đích Tôn is a position that holds a great deal of honor and duty. He is the eldest grandson by the eldest son and is responsible to not only carry on the family name but also our traditions and history.

And this past December, my parents’ Đích Tôn made his debut in the world– Leonidas Knox Nguyen.

 

 

Creme Brulee

Of course, Dad was thrilled beyond belief. And how could he not be? Leo is freaking adorable and such an alert little guy. And those cheeks! I could just squeeze and zerbert them all day!

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A month after his arrival, my brother and his fam came from NYC for an extended stay so that we could all meet Leo and spend time with his big sis, Luna. While they were here, V and L held a small gathering with the immediate family in Leo’s honor. It gave the fam an opportunity to give our blessings, best wishes and words of us advice to Leo.

Admittedly, there’s a lot resting on the little guy’s shoulder. But at just 3 months, I can tell he will far exceed anything we could possibly hope for.

 

 

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Oh! And as for the Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée–I whipped up a few batches for Leo’s gathering. Don’t worry Leo, as soon as those teeth come in, Cô Nam will be stuffing you with goodies. xoxo!

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Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 Large Egg
4 Large Egg Yolks
½ Cup Sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
3 Cups Heavy Cream
2 Vanilla Bean Pods, split lengthwise with beans scraped out
1 Pint Fresh Berries, washed and dried

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and ½ cup of the sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan with the emptied vanilla bean pods and beans until it’s very hot to the touch but not boiled. Remove the vanilla bean pods and with the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar caramelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens. Serve with fresh berries on top.

Slightly adapted from Ina Garten

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

Ever since I made my Vanilla Bean Cupcakes filled with Dulce de Leche, I was convinced that those two flavors were a match made in heaven.

I’ve tried pairing them in every form I could think of—-cookies, ice cream, brownies. And then it came to me…………

Why not in Macarons!

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

I decided to flavor the shells with vanilla beans instead of using extracts or oils. The beans left a pretty speckled look to the shells that I just loved.

For the filling, I went with the “Easy Peasy” method of making dulce de leche by slowly cooking a can of sweetened condensed milk in a crock pot. It’s ridiculously easy to make and results in a beautifully luscious product. You simply MUST try it if you haven’t done it before.

I had intended to just fill the macarons with dulce de leche but it ended up oozing over the sides of the shells. And although it still would have tasted yummy, it didn’t look too eye-appealing. I decided to make a quick buttercream with the Dulce de Leche to give the same flavor but with a better consistency. Just as yummy in my opinion :)

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

I must admit that I was a bit sloppy with these little buggers. When I bake macarons, I am usually so meticulous and focus solely on them.  But this time I was attempting to multitask in the kitchen and was trying to do a ton of different things at once. As a result, I was a bit careless when I piped the shells and they came out in all sizes and shapes—-My Bad!

But even though they weren’t Pierre Hermé perfect, it did prove once again that Vanilla Beans and Dulce de Leche are the new “IT” couple!

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Vanilla Bean Macarons with Dulce de Leche Buttercream
Makes 18-20 Macarons

Ingredients:

Macarons Shells:
115 Grams Almond Meal
180 Grams Confectioners’ Sugar
100 Grams Egg Whites, aged at room temperature for 24 hours
25 Grams Granulated Sugar
Seeds from 1/2 Vanilla Bean Pod

Dulce de Leche Buttercream:
1 to 2 Cups Confectioners Sugar, sifted
½ Cup Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
3 to 4 Tablespoons Dulce de Leche

In a large bowl sift together almond meal and confectioners’ sugar to remove any lumps. Set aside.

In a mixing stand, whisk egg whites until frothy. Add vanilla beans and slowly add granulated sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks are formed. Carefully begin incorporating dry mixture into the meringue—gently folding until all items have been integrated. This should take no more than 50 strokes.

Using a piping bag fitted with a large round tip, pipe small rounds of the mixture onto Silpat lined baking sheets. Rounds should be about 1½ inches in diameter. Once baking sheets are filled, tap the sheet carefully but firmly on the counter to remove any possible air pockets. Let baking sheets sit on the counter for 45 minutes to harden the outer shell before baking.

Bake at 280 degrees for 16-18 minutes. Transfer the pans to cooling rack and cool completely before removing shells from mats.

While shells are cooling, prepare the buttercream. In a large mixer bowl, whip the butter for several minutes until very light and fluffy. Slowly add the confectioners sugar until the butter becomes thicker and stiff. Add the Dulce de Leche and whip until combined. If needed, add a few more spoons of confectioners sugar until desired consistency is reached.

Transfer buttercream to a piping bag. Fill a macaron shell with the buttercream and sandwich with another shell.. Macarons can be stored in airtight containers for 3 to 4 days.

Note: The buttercream is on the sweeter side so I would suggest filling only a minimal amount :)

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes filled with Dulce de Leche

After making the “Easy-Peasy Dulce de Leche” via my crock pot for the honey, I was set on using the ooey-gooey goodness in a cupcake for him, too. I chose a simple cake to compliment the sweet Dulce de Leche and made a quick butter cream frosting flavored with even more of the Dulce de Leche to top the cuppies. By making mini cuppies, per his preference, he could pop one in his mouth from time to time to enjoy without having to commit to a whole cupcake. But in the end, he had so many minis I should have just made a whole cake for him! Nonetheless, I was so pleased that he loved them.

I think what added to the overall product was my choice of boosting the vanilla flavor of the cake as I find that vanilla pairs so well with caramel. I adapted Elinor Klivan’s Vanilla Cupcake recipe by substituting the plain granulated sugar with some vanilla bean sugar I had made earlier in the week. I also added the seeds of an entire Tahitian vanilla bean pod into the batter. It was quite pretty to see all the speckles of the vanilla bean in the batter, too.

The bf and I were VERY happy with the end results of these cuppies and I can’t wait to make them again! If you or if you know of someone who loves all things vanilla (or caramel-like), try out these cuppies and let me know if you liked them as much as we did!

Check out all those pretty speckles of vanilla bean

Mini-cuppies hot out of the oven

Using a #13 Wilton Open Star Tip, fill the mini cupcakes with Dulce de Leche.

Happy minis full of Dulce de Leche

Using a #17 Wilton Open Star Tip, pipe a decorative pattern with the frosting. I sprinkled some pearl nonpareil candies on top of a few, too.

Inside peek of a cuppie.

I made one full sized cupcake since I had a little more batter left over at the end. I had fun piping all these stars on top…. :)

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Vanilla Bean Cupcakes filled with Dulce de Leche

Ingredients:

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes (Adapted from Elinor Klivans)
1 ¼ Cups All Purpose Flour
½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
¼ Teaspoon Baking Soda
¼ Teaspoon Salt
2 Large Eggs (room temperature)
1 Cup Vanilla Sugar*
½ Cup Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
1 Tablespoon Good Quality Vanilla Extract
Seeds from 1 Vanilla Bean Pod
½ Cup Sour Cream
*Dulce de Leche (see previous post)

*Vanilla Sugar
Take the scraped Vanilla Bean Pod and bury into one cup of granulated sugar. Cover for a minimum of 5 days, stirring every other day.

Dulce de Leche Buttercream Frosting
3 to 4 Cups Confectioners Sugar (sifted)
½ Cup Unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 to 3 Tablespoons Dulce de Leche

Preheat the oven to 350°degrees and place paper liners in pans.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a standing mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together until light and creamy for about 2 minutes. Add the butter, vanilla bean seeds, and vanilla extract. Mix until well incorporated. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients until well blended. Fold in sour cream until smooth and well incorporated.

Fill each lined cup ½ to 2/3 full. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes (for mini cupcakes), rotating halfway between baking time. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean. Cool completely in pans on top of a wire rack.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare frosting. In a large mixer bowl, whip the butter for several minutes until very light and fluffy. Slowly add the confectioners sugar until the butter becomes thicker and stiff. Add the Dulce de Leche and whip until combined. If needed, add a few more spoons of confectioners sugar until desired consistency is reached.

When cupcakes are thoroughly cooled, fill a piping bag with a small tip and the Dulce de Leche. Carefully insert the tip into the cupcake and slowly fill each cake with desired amount.

Fill another piping bag with the prepared Dulce de Leche frosting. Frost and decorate the cupcakes.

ENJOY!