Featured Poem 4/6/05


Crème Brulée

Crackle-crisp bittersweet sugar crust
Over a chilly custard of balanced
Egginess, creaminess and sweetness,
That is perfection!
No tepid leadenness, no sullen flavors,
But a spoon-clinging ethereal custard
For you my love.

An elegant mouthfeel, a glossy, luminescent look,
The richest flavor, a lovely lilting texture.
Twelve egg yolks strikes gold.

No lean half-and-half nor whipping cream,
But four cups of luxurious heavy cream
To wrap your tongue about
When we cross the finish line.

Half the cream heated to extract
Flavors from a steeping vanilla bean
And to ease dissolution of the sugars (2/3 cup).

Into the ramekins I go, into the water bath
Filled with boiling water, cushioned by a silpat.
Each of us having distance from all.

At three hundred degrees I fare beautifully.
My periphery content while my center saunters to completion.
Take care that I am not overcooked
Lest I lose my smooth, silken texture
Becoming grainy or even dare I say curdled?

Somewhere when my temperature rises
To between 170-175 I am ready to leave the oven.
Barely set, shaky on foal’s legs, but not sloshy.
Cool me at room temperature.
Suspend me for two hours on a wire rack
With a view of the outdoors.

Then cover my ramekin bed tightly in plastic
And refrigerate me until I am cold.
Don’t think of my discomfort,
Leave me chilling for at least four hours.

Now for the dénouement.
Dab the moisture off my face,
Sprinkle a teaspoon of coarse turbinado sugar
Oh so evenly across my surface.
Then torch me. Yes you must do it.
Caramelize my surface sweetness into a crackly crust.
Torch me, then rechill me, this time uncovered.
Until at last you can savor me bite by bite.


Mindy Habecker 4/5/05


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