This recipe was featured in the May issue of Texas Monthly. It is from Chef Will Packwood of 7 in Austin.
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 cup sugar
1 pint cream
1 tablespoon orange zest
8 egg yolks
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Split and scrape the vanilla bean and combine with the sugar, cream, and finely chopped orange zest and scald over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, lightly mix the yolks with a wooden or stainless-steel spoon. When the cream is hot, temper the yolks with an equal amount of the hot cream. Add the remaining cream to the yolk mixture and stir to combine. Strain the creme brulee mixture into a clean bowl and place over an ice bath or immediately turn into ramekins.
Pour the custard mixture into 8 four-ounce ramekins and place them in a large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the custard filled ramekins, wrap the roasting pan loosely with aluminum foil, and place on the center rack of the preheated oven.
Bake the custards for one hour and fifteen minutes, or until custard slightly jiggles when you shake the ramekin. Editor's note: Start watching the custard at the 45-minute mark.
Remove the custards from the water bath and allow them to cool to room temperature. Wrap individually in plastic wrap and allow them to rest in the refrigerator overnight.
When you are ready to serve, pour one tablespoon of granulated sugar over the top of the custard. Shake the ramekin so that the sugar is distributed in a thin even layer. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar. Allow the custards to rest for one to two minutes. Serve the custards with assorted cookies or mixed berries.
1/3 cup (3 ounces) almond paste
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) sugar
2 egg yolks
1/8 cup (1 ounce) amaretto
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 cups (8 ounces) cake flour
2 cups (8 ounces) AP flour
pinch of salt
Editor's note: 8 fluid ounces equals 1 cup (butter, sugar); 4 solid ounces equals 1 cup (flour)
Using a food processor or mixer, thoroughly combine the softened almond paste and softened butter, transfer mixture to a mixer and cream with the sugar.
When butter-sugar mixture is light and fluffy, add the yolks one at a time, combine thoroughly making sure to scrape down the side of the mixing bowl.
Add the amaretto and zest mix to combine, sift flours and salt over mixing bowl and fold lightly to combine, remove shortbread dough from mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow dough to rest in cooler for 25 to 30 minutes.
When dough has rested, remove from cooler, unwrap, and roll dough on sugared, cooled work surface to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut dough into five-inch rounds, transfer to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes, in a 350-degree oven. Yields approximately 1 1/2 dozen.
Editor's note: Five-inch rounds are pretty large, and the cookies spread slightly while baking. Allow for room when spacing the cookies apart on the baking sheet. A smaller round will produce smaller cookies.