March 13, 2010

Crème Brûlée

Crème Brûlée...two words in the dessert world that seems to evoke so much devotion.  Mention  crème brûlée and most people I know smile and get a dreamy, dazed look on their face.   "I LOVE crème brûlée.   It's my absolute favorite!" is usually what follows.

I was a latecomer to the craze.  Creamy custards, like crème brûlée or it's close cousin crème caramel, were not my dessert of choice.  There was something about the texture that I just couldn't wrap my arms around.  But as I've gotten older I've found that my tastes have changed, possibly even matured. Nowadays I can truthfully say that I enjoy it very much, even more so when I discovered how simple it was to make.

Crème Brûlée
(serves 6)
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
6 large egg yolks
6 tsp turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine 1 cup of heavy cream, sugar, salt and vanilla bean paste in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiled.  Stir occasionally while heating to dissolve sugar.  Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes.

Get a large baking dish or roasting pan and line with a clean kitchen towel.  Place six 4 to 5 oz ramekins on towel. 

Bring a kettle of water to boil.

Stir remaining 1 cup of cold cream to the cream already in the saucepan.

In a large bowl whisk egg yolks until combined.  Slowly add cream to the yolk mixture, stirring vigorously to avoid scrambling the eggs.

Pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer in to a 1 qrt measuring cup or medium mixing bowl.  Throw out any solids that are collected.

Pour cream in to the ramekins.  Carefully pour boiled water in to baking dish/roasting pan until it reaches about 2/3 up the side of the ramekin.

Bake until centers are just set and reaches about 175 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 30 minutes.

Take pan out of oven and transfer ramekins to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, place ramekins in fridge for at least 4 hours and up to 4 days. 

Spread 1 tsp turbinado sugar on each ramekin, shaking the dish to evenly distribute.
Ignite a torch and caramelize sugar until nicely browned.  Put ramekin back in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.


  1. Anonymous3/14/2010

    how essential is the vanilla bean paste to this?? Your pictures are making me drool, but all I have is vanilla extract...

  2. The dessert is actually best made with a vanilla bean pod, split in half and the seeds scraped in to steeping cream. But the pods are pretty expensive which is why I used vanilla bean paste; I still wanted to see the tiny black seeds in the finished custard. Trader Joe's sells the paste and it's relatively inexpensive. But if vanilla extract is all you have, you should definitely use it.

  3. looking yummy girl, memories of xmas hols! x

  4. Anonymous12/20/2011

    Getting ready to make this recipe for the 4 time! It is so yummy and easy to make...its everyone's favorite.

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