Maple Bourbon Creme Brûlée

Maple Creme Brûlée - Impeckable Eats

Bourban Maple Creme Brûlée

Thanksgiving is almost here and what better way to celebrate than with Maple Bourbon Crème Brulee. It may sound fancy, and taste fancy, but this perfect party dessert is much easier to make than it looks. Maple syrup and bourbon whiskey are the two key ingredients here. The sweet and subtle flavors add just enough complexity to make this crème brulee standout in any crowd of desserts.

People often find French desserts intimidating and sometimes old fashioned. Souffles, Crème Brulee, Pot de Crème, Tart Tatin are just a few that often sound more sophisticated and difficult than they actually are. Many of these desserts utilize classic techniques that allow for creative modern twists. Crème Brulee is just a baked cream mixture but the caramelized/brulee top provides a slight bitterness that compliments the sweet cream. This brulee or caramelization is often the scariest part about re-creating this restaurant favorite at home, but a top broiler or culinary torch makes it super simple. So fear not! This fancy French dessert is at your fingertips (quite literally).

Maple Creme Brûlée - Impeckable Eats

Although I’ve posted about Crème Brulee previously, this recipe is very loosely adapted from “Baking,” by Dorie Greenspan. It’s unusual that I post two recipes in a row that are adapted from the same cookbook but I’ve been diving into this 500 page all-encompassing baking book and fresh ideas keep coming. Maple and bourbon are such comforting fall flavors, I couldn’t resist pairing them with the rich heavy crème.

I mentioned that this is a great autumn party or holiday dessert. But I should also note that this is a wonderful dessert to make if you’re home alone, stressed, sad, or just need a sweet pick-me-up to finish the day. Just halve this recipe to make around 3 servings and caramelize the sugar on each crème as you’re ready to eat it (this is a little easier to do with a culinary torch). Voila! Maple Bourbon Crème Brulee is a dessert worth enjoying with friends, alone or just because.

Maple Bourbon Creme Brûlée - Impeckable Eats

Maple Bourbon Creme Brûlée


Maple Bourbon Creme Brûlée


1 ½ cups heavy cream
¼ cup whole milk
4 egg yolks
½ cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 tablespoons fine granulated sugar


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Place molds on a baking sheet with 1-inch high sides.

Bring the cream and milk just to a boil.

In a 1 or 2 quart glass measuring cup or in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, maple syrup, vanilla, and bourbon until well blended but not airy. Still whisking, drizzle in about one quarter of the hot liquid – this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the cream and milk. Give the bowl a good rap against the counter to d-bubble the custard, then strain it into the baking dishes.

Using hot water from the tap, pour enough water into the baking sheet to reach halfway up the sides of the molds.

Bake the custards for 40 minutes, or until the centers are set – tap the sides of the dishes, and the custards should hold firm. Lift the dishes onto a cooling rack and let the custards cool until they reach room temperature.

Cover each custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably longer. For the sugar to be successfully caramelized, the custards need to be thoroughly chilled.

When ready to serve, Place the molds on a clean baking sheet. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the sugar over the top of the custards. It is important to spread the sugar evenly. Torch or place under broiler until sugar is caramelized. Serve immediately.


Crème Brûlée

Classic Creme Brûlée

Creme Brulee


Crème brulee is one of those semi-fancy French-American desserts that often seems too pretentious to make at home. This rich custard, also known as burnt cream – a reference to its hard caramelized top layer, is not as fussy to make as it looks. Those familiar with crème brulee may think you need those cute little kitchen blow torches to make it properly. A blow torch is definitely more fun but not necessary. This dessert was around long before anyone determined a blow torch was the best way to caramelize the sugar on top of the cream. I can’t imagine my grandmother using a blow torch in the 1960’s, when she did the majority of her cooking and baking. Although this is not her recipe, it was published around the same time period in 1961 in “The New York Times Cookbook,” by friend and colleague, Craig Claiborne.

So what can you use instead of a blow torch? The broiler, of course. The texture may not be as perfect but a similar sugary glass-like shell can be achieved. Shallow ramekins (unlike the ones shown here) will also help the cooking process. They simply allow the crème to bake faster and provide more surface area for caramelization. Blow torch or not, that first spoonful of the crispy burnt caramel with rich vanilla crème will make the few extra steps to make this impressive dessert, well worth it.


3 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons sugar
6 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Heat cream over boiling water (in a double boiler) and stir in sugar. Beat the egg yolks until light and pour the hot cream over them gradually, stirring vigorously. Stir in the vanilla and strain the mixture into ramekins.

Place the dishes in a pan containing one inch of hot water and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, or 35 minutes. Do not over-bake. The custard will continue to cook from retained heat when it is removed from the oven. Chill thoroughly.

Before serving, cover surface with brown sugar. Set the dishes in a pan with cracked ice and put under the broiler until sugar is brown and melted. Serve immediately.

Serves 6-8.



Cats Tongue Cookies

Cats Tongue Cookies Langue du Chat

It’s funny how a simple butter cookie can inspire such nostalgic memories. As a child, Cats’ Tongues or Langues du Chat was one of the first recipes I tried from “The Art of Fine Baking.” Although I enjoyed piping the buttery dough onto baking sheets, I didn’t really understand this plain cookie. Perhaps my taste buds were too accustomed to the corn syrup filled treats that were so readily available. Or maybe I just didn’t try these delicious little bites while they were still hot and fresh from the oven (by far the best time to eat them). Whatever the reason, it wasn’t until my father shared his memories of my grandmother making them that I really began to enjoy and appreciate this simple sweet treat. However, the addition of chocolate didn’t hurt either.

Cats’ tongues cookies were the go-to cookie in Paula Peck’s kitchen. She would often make them for my father and uncle, who as children, eagerly watched as she piped the skinny pencil thin drops of dough onto a baking sheet. Fascinated with the pastry bag, my father often begged to try it and on the occasion that my grandmother relented, he promptly made a big mess of cookie dough and whatever baking sheet or other kitchen equipment/utensils it came in contact with. Once the cookies finally made it out of the oven, they were consumed by fist full.

After whipping up a batch of these in under 30 minutes, I now see why they were a popular treat in my grandmother’s kitchen. Not only are they easy to make, it’s hard to stop eating them. This recipe is fairly large and can be easily halved but if you don’t finish them while fresh and hot, dip the cooled cookies in chocolate. The chocolate adds a twist to the original plain cookie, making these buttery delights irresistible to all of us choco-holics.


1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 egg whites
1 cup sifted flour
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
melted chocolate for dipping (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease and flour baking sheets or line with parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg whites, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in flour, salt, and vanilla. Fit a pastry bag with a large star tube and fill bag with 2/3 of the cookie batter. On prepared baking sheets, pipe pencils of batter about 2 inches long. Leave one inch between cookies for spreading.

Bake about 7 minutes or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Centers should remain light. Remove cookies from baking sheets at once. Once cool, dip in melted chocolate (if using).

Yield approximately 50

Cats Tongues




Palmiers by Paula Peck

Sometimes I think my grandmother should have written a book called “101 things to do with puff pastry.” There are at least 20 recipes in “The Art of Find Baking” alone that use this buttery flaky dough. Also known as the elephant ear or palm tree, the classic French Palmier is more versatile than you may think. Instead of rolling the dough in just plain sugar, cinnamon sugar can be used for extra spice.  By folding the dough into the more traditional palmier shape (versus the four-finger), these pastries look similar to a heart and are the perfect accompaniment for that morning cup of coffee on Valentines day.  It may be a bit of a stretch but if Parmesan cheese is used instead of sugar (a far less traditional ingredient), these turn into a delicious game day appetizer for the super bowl. Who knew these simple pastries had so many uses?

The key to a delicious palmier is to make them yourself and eat them fresh. Those sad boxed palmiers you see at the grocery store do not do them justice. Most of us don’t have time for the lengthy process of making puff pastry so store bought puff pastry may be used. As long as you bake them yourself, these snack-worthy pastries will be much better than the often stale, pre-made ones. Since rolling and folding the dough into the palmiers shape may seem daunting or even confusing, I have included the below illustration from “The Art of Fine Baking.” For those of you who are not familiar with this baking book, it’s full of these charming old fashioned illustrations and this one in particular is actually quite helpful. So the next time you have extra puff pastry or are looking for a fun, easy snack – give palmiers a chance. You may be surprised how much you like them.


Puff Pastry recipe
granulated sugar, cinnamon sugar, or grated Parmesan cheese

Roll out puff pastry in sugar to make a long strip ten inches wide and 1/8 inch thick (if using cheese instead of sugar, roll out pastry in flour). Sprinkle with sugar (or cheese). Determine the center of the strip. Fold each long side inward into thirds, so that two folded halves meet exactly in the center. Then fold halves together to make a compact 6-layer roll. Coat with additional sugar or cheese. Wrap in wax paper and chill for 1 hour.

Palmiers Folding Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut roll into 1/4 inch slices. Place well apart on ungreased baking sheet. Spread the two halves of each slice slightly so they can expand while baking. Bake about 30 minutes, turning slices over once with a spatula after 25 minutes. Bake until golden brown.