I'm not sure if there are just fewer Christmas items this year, or if they were just sold out of most of them at our local Trader Joe's, but this is about the most Christmassy thing we could find on our last TJ's run. I mean, there's nothing unChristmassy about creme brulee, but there are also no conventions I'm aware of that would insist that it be consumed this time of year in particular. Nevertheless, this is the post we leave you with on this 22nd of December, and it's likely the last post you'll see until after Christmas Day.
So. Hmmm. I followed the directions to the letter. And I'm not sure if my broiler just never got hot enough, but I don't think the sugar ever melted the way it was supposed to. I let the oven preheat for significantly longer than the estimated 5 minutes, just to make sure it was broiling, and I left the product in for at least 2 minutes. I did take it out shortly thereafter for fear I'd burn the entire thing. After reviewing another creme brulee product a few years back, a reader commented in regards to the sugar topping: "You need a blow torch."
At first—foodie-hack that I am—I thought he was joking, but then I realized that there is such a thing as a culinary blow torch. Well, I didn't own one then and I certainly don't own one now, so...I considered improvising and holding a can of Sonia's hairspray or Lysol up to a lighter and seeing if that would do the trick, but then my better judgment got the best of me, and I decided it wasn't worth risking the clean and fresh fragrance of disinfectant or the alluring odor of a women's aerosol hair product ruining the flavor of this tarte altogether. Caramelized sugar tastes just fine whether it's completely melted or not.
So after allowing the product to cool for 3 minutes, I prepared to slice it. Wait a minute. Since when do you slice creme brulee? Since it became a "tarte" apparently. This is more like a pie with creme brulee-flavored filling than actual creme brulee. Not bad, just different. It actually has a crust. It's a thin crust, but it's unmistakably crusty and bready.
The filling is thick, rich, and somewhat custard-like, similar to real creme brulee, but something about the flavor just fell flat in my opinion. I feel like the topping was nice and sweet, but the flavor of the filling was perhaps a bit too "eggy" for me, if that makes sense, and it lacked a bit of that sweet creamy vibe in certain other creme brulee selections that I've tried. It's nothing to complain about, but in the end, nothing to write home about either.
Sonia had similar sentiments about this dessert overall, though her opinion of the filling was slightly more positive than mine. She'll give this product three and a half Christmas stars. I'll go with three.
Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.