Vail Simply Seasonal column: Creme brulee, cheesecake squares and more
As the weather reminds us that fall is quickly approaching, September is the perfect time to crank the oven back on and bake a few classic desserts to complement the last of the summer stone fruits and berries. “Creme brulee is one of the all-time favorites,” said Restaurant Avondale pastry chef Bill Fitzgerald. “Any fruit works perfectly alongside.” Bill recommends learning to make the original classic and then experimenting by adding purees of other ingredients, such as corn or butternut squash, to give the brulee another flavor dimension. “Finish your dessert with a complementary sauce,” he said. “Puree blackberries with simple syrup and a bit of fresh basil, and drizzle around the plate.”Indulge in one of the recipes here and serve with the ripest peaches, nectarines, plums and berries. Or for pure simplicity, “Fresh fruit flavors can be highlighted by a simple toss of sugar and balsamic vinegar, then spooned over ice cream,” said Michael Mayer, executive chef of Restaurant Avondale.
1⁄2 vanilla bean2 cups heavy cream4 egg yolksPinch of salt1⁄4 cup granulated sugar8 to 12 teaspoons superfine sugarPlace rack in center of oven, and preheat to 300. Ready a saucepan of boiling water. Using a paring knife, split vanilla bean down the middle and scrape seeds into a two-quart saucepan. Add cream and the split vanilla bean, stir to mix, and set the pan over medium heat. Warm the cream until bubbles form around the edges and steam begins to rise from the surface. Remove from heat and allow to steep, about 15 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, salt and granulated sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and thick ribbons fall from the whisk, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the cream mixture, whisking until blended. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. Divide mixture among four 4-ounce ramekins and place ramekins in a shallow baking pan (large enough to hold all four.) Pour the boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover pan loosely with foil and bake until custards are just set around the edges, 30-35 minutes. Transfer ramekins to wire rack and cool to room temperature, then cover and chill at least 4 hours and up to 3 days. To serve, sprinkle each custard with 2-3 teaspoons superfine sugar and use a kitchen torch to melt and caramelize. (Or place under the broiler, rotating as necessary to brown evenly.) Serve immediately. Serves 4.
1 cup brown sugar11⁄2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped31⁄2 cups flour1 cup butter, melted11⁄2 pounds cream cheese3⁄4 cup sugar3 eggs3 Tablespoons lemon juice1⁄3 cup milk1 Tablespoon vanillaPreheat oven to 350. Spray 9×13 pan with baking spray. Combine brown sugar, pecan, flour and butter in an medium bowl. Set aside 11⁄2 cups of this mixture and press the remaining firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan. Combine cream cheese and sugar in mixing bowl, mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, incorporating. Add lemon juice, milk, and vanilla and mix well. Pour over crust in bottom of pan. Sprinkle remaining nut mixture over top evenly. Bake 20-25 minutes or until set. Cool completely and refrigerate before cutting into squares. Serve with fresh fruit, tossed with sugar and balsamic vinegar.
For the berries:1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered1 pint blueberries1⁄2 pint raspberries1⁄2 pint blackberries1⁄4 cup sugarCombine all berries and sugar in a bowl. Divide berries evenly between six red wine glasses. Chill.For the Champagne sabayon:10 egg yolks1 cup sugar1 cup champagne or sparkling wine 13⁄4 cup heavy creamHave ready: Medium size stainless steel mixing bowl, large size mixing bowl, (filled one-third of the way with ice and a little bit of water), whisk, rubber spatula, and medium size saucepot, (filled one-third of the way with hot water).Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and champagne in medium mixing bowl. Set bowl over saucepot with water in it, over medium heat on the stovetop. Whisk vigorously until mixture becomes pale yellow and thick, it should barely drip off of the whisk. Remove from heat and set bowl into larger bowl of ice, (being sure that ice water will not run into smaller bowl). Continue whisking until mixture is completely cool to the touch. Set aside. Whip heavy cream to soft peaks and fold into yolk mixture. Spoon over berries just before serving. Serves 6.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Restaurant Avondale in the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa. Avondale (www.avondalerestaurant.com ) opened in September 2008 and features straightforward, seasonal American cuisine in a stylish, social setting with views of Beaver Creek Mountain and the Eagle River. Contact email@example.com.