Saturday, March 11, 2006
25 servings of Creme Brulee
Class projects. How they have changed since the second grade model of a volcano.
I'll give my kids credit. They have always been pretty good about not putting things off until the last moment. We haven't had too many late, late nights putting finishing touches on whatever it was that was due at 8 the next morning. Perhaps the recurring family story about SOMEONE ( I believe it was a great aunt) who appeared at breakfast and announced that she needed a clothespin dressed like a Roman soldier for school THAT DAY has served its purpose as a warning against the sin of procrastination.
Procrastination isn't the problem. It's the technical details.
Like the culinary torch.
Alex had the opportunity to participate in a convocation of upper level French students. They could speak, they could read, they could act (in French, naturally), or they could participate in "Other Categories". This notion of "Other" intrigued him, and he informed his teacher that he would prepare and present Cappucino Creme Brulee for the consideration of the judges.
This would involve FIRE.
We found the required torch at a kitchen store, made the trip BACK to the store for the fuel (not included), deduced that we did not have an appropriate assortment of ramekins to present 6-8 servings, so added to our ramekin collection. There was a "practice run" at cooking the dessert, the amount of whole coffee beans was adjusted a bit and Alex became quite proficient at separating eggs.
The project was such a success that Alex agreed to prepare his Creme Brulee again for a "class party" on the day before Spring Break. Cooking it wasn't the problem. Even transporting the chilled custards to the school and meeting up with Alex at the right time and place was arranged easily enough.
The problem was - the torch.
The sugar can't be flamed and melted too early or it dissolves away. There was no question of serving without the burnt sugar topping that is the trademark of the dessert. I wasn't too thrilled with the prospect of flaming them all just before running them up to the school, and Alex felt that was his area of expertise, anyway.
But on the other hand, a butane torch is not, as a rule, allowed in school. Certainly it can't sit in a locker all day, yea, it cannot even be in the child's possession.
Why couldn't he have decided to make a cheesecake?
Where there's a will, there's always a way around the rules. I would bring the torch with me when I delivered the Creme Brulee, carry it on my person to the classroom where the teacher agreed that it would be under her "control" for 50 minutes, then I would pick it up and take it home at the end of class, walking straight out of the building (do not stop, do not chat, do not pass go, do not collect $200).
I doubt that the officials at the school would really want to know that the torch was passed around rather liberally, and all who wanted to have a go at carbonizing sugar got to do so.
Alex's status as "The guy with the COOL project" remains intact..