So far, I have written about the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival 2013 (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5) and Legoland Florida from our Orlando trip last October. Now, it is time for Downtown Disney with a recipe for Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee.
We visited Downtown Disney in the afternoon with friends of ours after spending the morning checking out the University of Central Florida campus (where Chad recently graduated with his Master’s). We arrived just in time for lunch and tried out Cookes of Dublin. Cookes of Dublin is a counter service restaurant located next to the sit down Raglan Road pub and restaurant. They are popular for their fish and chips, meat and seafood pies, battered sandwiches, skinny (thin) chips, and doh bar fried candy bars. Seating inside is very limited, but we got lucky and were able to grab a table just as another family was leaving. There are a few more tables available outside, but it was incredibly hot and humid that day. If you want to grab a table inside, definitely avoid prime meal times.
I ordered the Mini Irish Sausages, Chad got the Battered Burger and Chips, and we shared Garlic and Parmesan Skinny Chips. Everything was absolutely delicious. The Mini Irish Sausages were lightly battered and fried. The burger was also lightly battered and served with garlic mayonnaise and tomato chutney. Evan was teething quite a bit, but picked a little from both of our plates. His favorites were the Burger and Garlic and Parmesan Skinny Chips.
We had a great time exploring many of the shops in Downtown Disney. Chad’s favorite, of course, is the Lego Imagination Center. We didn’t eat at the T-Rex Cafe, but Evan loved digging for bones in the play area connected to the restaurant. His absolute favorite was the splash area near Once Upon a Toy. I’m so happy we had an extra change of clothes. He was completely soaked and would have spent all day in the fountains if he could.
Downtown Disney has both the Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe and Wolfgang Puck Express. With an 18 month old and our friends’ infant, we didn’t want to attempt a sit down restaurant, so we chose Wolfgang Puck Express. We arrived at 5, just before the dinner rush and were able to order and find a table right away. There is a decent amount of seating inside and out. It started to get really crowded as we were leaving.
I ordered the Spaghetti Bolognese and Creme Brulee with Berries. Chad and Evan shared a Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza. Our friends also ordered a Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza and a Half Rotisserie Chicken. I enjoyed the flavor of the Spaghetti Bolognese, but it was a little on the oily side and I wish it would have included a little more meat. This was my first time trying Creme Brulee and I am hooked. I love the crisp caramelized coating with the creamy vanilla interior. The pizza was delicious. The Half Rotisserie Chicken came with Caesar Salad and Garlic Butter and Rosemary Mashed Potatoes. At 16 dollars, it was one of the more expensive menu items, but came with plenty of food.
Evan wore himself out and fell asleep as soon as we put him in the car.
After trying the delicious Creme Brulee at Wolfgang Puck Express, I ordered a Culinary Torch to make my own Creme Brulee at home. I found a Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee Recipe from Pineapple and Coconut that sounded perfect. It is so easy to make too! It costs 6 dollars in the restaurant, but only a fraction of that to make yourself if you already have the torch and dishes.
Heavy cream is steeped with scraped out vanilla beans before being mixed with sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla extract. The mixture is divided among ramekins and baked in a water bath until set. Refrigerate until chilled. Then the fun starts. Right before serving, sprinkle the tops with sugar and heat with the torch until the sugar caramelizes. The result is a crisp caramelized layer over the thick and creamy custard.
Be sure to not torch the top until immediately before serving. The top will soften with time. When beating the eggs, add the heavy cream in a very thin and light stream to keep the eggs from scrambling.
Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee Recipe
Adapted from Pineapple and Coconut
Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/4 cup cup granulated sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- Turbinado or granulated sugar
- In a deep baking pan, place 4 (6 ounce) ramekins.
- In a small saucepan, add heavy cream over medium heat. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the emptied pod. Once the cream begins to steam, but not boil, remove from heat, cover, and steep for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and salt until light and thickened.
- Remove the pod from the heavy cream. While whisking the eggs, slowly add the heavy cream, careful not to heat the eggs too quickly or beat too much air into the mixture. If any of the eggs scramble, strain the mixture. Divide among the ramekins. Fill the pan halfway up the ramekins with hot water.
- Carefully transfer the pan to the preheated oven without getting any water into the ramekins. Bake until barely set, but still a little loose on the top, 30-35 minutes. Remove ramekins from water bath and place on wire rack to cool. Once room temperature, cover and refrigerate 4 hours to overnight.
- Once ready to serve, bring to room temperature and top each custard with 1-2 tablespoons of sugar. Move the flame from the blowtorch across the entire surface until sugar darkens and caramelizes.
- Serve immediately.