Pam McKinstry of SVKitchen.com says they have been experimenting with ways to expand the functionality of their water oven, and using it as a bain marie has opened up all sorts of possibilities. A bain marie consists of one cooking vessel nestled inside another, the smaller of the two holding the food and the larger filled with a liquid, usually water. It's typically used in cooking situations where it's important to maintain an even temperature and avoid overheating. Sound familiar?
Traditional uses for a bain marie include custards and delicate sauces such as Hollandaise or Bearnaise. Her first experiment was with custard, and using her SousVide Supreme as a bain marie was easy and near-foolproof. She wanted to cook the custards in ramekins, so the only tricky part was elevating the cups above the SousVide Supreme's minimum water fill line so the water wouldn't swamp the custards. In the end, they simply improvised a rack that allowed her to control the water level so it came the desired two-thirds up the sides of the cups.
Pam loves all things ginger, and this custard is subtly infused with fresh ginger root. If ginger is not your thing, leave it out and add the seeds of a vanilla bean or some vanilla powder for a more classic custard. She likes to serve these custards as a creme brulee, but they're also delicious without the sugar topping. Although it's not traditional, Pam likes to serve them with a tropical fruit compote right on top of the creme brulee. The crunchy caramelized sugar, creamy custard, and chunks of fruit with their aromatic syrup come together in a texturally complex and tasty mouthful.
Ramekins or custard cups vary widely in size and capacity. For this recipe, make sure that the depth of the custard in the cup is no more than 1 inch. If the liquid is deeper than 1 inch, increase the cooking time.
If you would like more information about the modernist techniques, ingredients, and equipment used in the Sous Vide Ginger Crème Brulee you can check out the following.
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Fill the water oven to the fill line. Arrange a rack so that it rests about a half-inch below the surface of the water. Place four empty ramekins or custard cups on the rack and check to see that the level of the water comes two-thirds up the sides of the cups. Remove the ramekins from the water oven, but leave the rack in place.
Preheat the water bath to 185°F (85°C).
Place the cream, milk, and ginger in a medium saucepan and heat over low heat until the mixture is hot. Turn off the heat and let the mixture steep for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids. Return the liquid to a clean saucepan and reheat until it is just hot; do not allow it to boil.
Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Gradually whisk in the sugar and salt. Slowly whisk in the gingered cream. Divide the custard among the ramekins (2/3 cup per ramekin, unless your dishes are small). Cover each ramekin with a piece of plastic wrap and secure the plastic with a rubber band.
Set the ramekins on the wire rack, ensuring that the water comes two-thirds up the sides of the cups. If necessary, remove some of the water from the oven, or add more as needed. Cook for 50 minutes, then remove the ramekins and let them cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, remove the plastic wrap and let the custards cool completely. Refrigerate until cold. The custards can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 3 days before serving.
To serve, spread a thin layer of sugar on top of each chilled custard and caramelize with a torch to make creme brulee. Top with some of the fruit compote, if using.
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