Crème Brûlée, made with just four ingredients, is the best dessert! This rich and creamy classic recipe is easy to make too! Anyone can make this decadent dessert.
Why this recipe works:
Crème Brûlée no longer only needs to be enjoyed it in restaurants! Don't be intimidated to make it. The recipe was actually really easy to make and the results were far better than any Crème Brûlée I have ever ordered in a restaurant!
With a few simple techniques, it will turn out completely rich, smooth, decadent and creamy and the caramelized sugar topping will be golden brown and crisp.
What is Crème Brûlée?
Crème Brûlée is also known as burnt cream because it has a layer of hardened caramelized sugar on top. This layer is especially delicious because it is covering the most decadent, smooth, rich and creamy custard layer.
The contrast in flavor and texture between the creamy custard layer and hard caramelized sugar layer is enough to make anyone's taste bud's sing with joy!
Crème Brûlée is chilled, however the heat from the caramelization process tends to just slightly warm the top of the custard while lower down, it remains chilled.
The custard base is traditionally flavored with vanilla, but can be enhanced with many other flavors. More varieties of this classic dessert are sure to come!
Four simple ingredients create this classic dessert. Can you believe it?
- Heavy cream, or heavy whipping cream. I'm sure some readers will ask if you can substitute with milk and my answer will be no. The fat content in heavy cream is much, much higher than milk and there really is no substitute.
- Egg yolks. I'm a little biased when it comes to egg yolks because I have my own chickens and they are very spoiled chickens, at that. The egg yolks used in this Crème Brûlée recipe were from chickens fed an organic diet who have a ton of space, fresh air, and pasture. The eggs I used were extremely fresh and my yolks are dark orange and ridiculously creamy. That said, if you're making homemade Crème Brûlée, please use the highest quality eggs you can find. It truly makes a difference.
- Vanilla bean. You can certainly substitute pure vanilla extract for the vanilla bean, but if and when possible, use vanilla bean in this Crème Brûlée recipe. The cost of vanilla beans has skyrocketed over the past couple of years, but I think they're worth the investment.
- Nothing special here. Just regular granulated sugar.
How to make it:
- The first step is to scald the cream. I add the creamy to a heavy bottom sauce pan. Next, I split the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape the seeds, and add both the vanilla bean pod and seeds to the heavy cream. You will then heat the vanilla cream over medium high heat just until it starts to boil. At that point, remove the sauce pan from the heat, cover the mixture, and wait 15 minutes.
- Next you will blend the egg yolks with the sugar until they are pale yellow and fully mixed.
- Add a couple tablespoons of the warm cream mixture to the egg mixer and give it a good shake to fully mix and temper the egg. Add a couple more tablespoons of the warm cream and shake some more. At this point you can add all of the tempered egg mixture in with the cream and stir it well to fully combine.
- This mixture will then be strained through a fine mess strainer into four ramekins. The ramekins I used were 3.5 inches in diameter and about 1.75 inches deep. The filled ramekins are then added to a baking dish and water is added to the baking dish (not the ramekins) to create a water bath. You'll want to add enough so that the water is about half way up the sides of the ramekins.
- The Crème Brûlée will then bake in the water bath until is just starts to set but is still quite jiggly. This takes about 40-50 minutes.
- You'll need to remove the ramekins from the water bath and refrigerate them for at least two hours before adding the caramelized sugar layer.
Get a perfect caramelized sugar layer on top.
There are a few tricks to achieve a perfectly hard caramelized sugar layer on top of Crème Brûlée. The goal is to create the layer such that you have to hit it with your spoon in order to shatter the sweet caramel.
- To do this, you want to sprinkle just enough sugar on top of the Crème Brûlée so that it coats the top of the custard, but any excess is shaken off. Too much sugar will result in a layer of uncooked sugar under the hardened caramel layer. This happened to me once at a restaurant and it completely ruined the dessert.
- You can burn the sugar either by using a torch or the broiler in your oven. I much prefer the torch because it's just fun to watch the sugar boil. If you don't have a torch, don't worry. The broiler will do the trick.
- If using the broiler, I recommend surrounding your Crème Brûlée ramekins with ice to keep them chilled. You do not want the custard to cook under the broiler. Keep a very close eye on them because the sugar can go from caramelized to burnt in a matter of seconds!
How to serve Crème Brûlée:
Crème Brûlée can be kept in the refrigerator up to three days from the time you take it out of the oven to the time you're ready to add the caramelized sugar layer. Just be sure to keep it covered so that it doesn't dry out.
Be sure to hold off on the caramelization process until just before you're ready to serve the Crème Brûlée. If you caramelize the sugar and then put it back in the refrigerator, it will get soggy and you'll lose that fabulous hard top.
To serve Crème Brûlée, you simply need to provide a spoon. It's perfect on it's own, but I will always prefer fresh berries. That tartness and juice that a berry provides is a great compliment to the creamy sweetness you get with the best Crème Brûlée.
Crème Brûlée Recipe
RECIPE VIDEO WILL AUTOPLAY
Crème Brûlée custard:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean ((can substitute with 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract))
- 5 egg yolks ((reserve egg whites for other use))
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
For the caramelized top:
- 2 tsp sugar
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Add heavy cream to a sauce pan. Split vanilla bean down the middle lengthwise and scrape seeds out with tip of knife. Add seeds and pod to heavy cream. Heat over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat, cover saucepan with lid, and allow mixture to sit for about 15 minutes.
- While hot vanilla cream is sitting, combine egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in Whiskware™ Egg Mixer. Blend until creamy and light in color. Add about a tablespoon of the warm cream to the egg mixture and blend to temper. Add another tablespoon of warm cream and blend. Finally, transfer tempered egg mixture from the Whiskware™ Egg Mixer to the pan with the warm vanilla cream. Stir well to combine.
- Pour mixture through fine mesh strainer into 6 ramekins ensuring each ramekin has an equal amount. Place filled ramekins in a baking dish and add water to the baking dish (not to the inside of the ramekin) to create a water bath. Add enough water so that the water comes about half way up the sides. Bake in preheated oven just until the centers of the Crème Brûlée are set but still jiggly, about 40-50 minutes.
- Remove from oven, dry off water from bottoms of ramekins, and refrigerate for at least two hours. If making ahead of time, your Crème Brûlée can be refrigerated up to 3 days, however after two hours of refrigeration, cover with plastic wrap.
- To serve, sprinkle tops with granulated sugar. You want a thin even layer. If the sugar layer is too thick, it won't caramelize all the way through, so shake off any excess. Use a torch, working from the outside in, to caramelize the tops. See recipe notes on how to use oven to caramelize the tops.
This post was sponsored by Whiskware™ by Blender Bottle but all opinions are my own.