Creme brûlée used to be my go to going out dessert. It seemed like somehow it was really difficult to make, and since I’m not generally one for desserts, it took me several years to give it a go.
Then it became my favourite entertaining dessert (well, until I started making homemade icecream). I love that you can prep it the day before and then just add your sugar and brûlée it up before serving. And despite a reputation for being finicky, it’s actually very simple. Only a few times have I not had it turn out and I’ve made this MANY times! Once when I tried substituting some half and half for some of the whipping cream (it didn’t set properly and was a bit runny) and another time when my eggs got a bit scrambled- it was still delicious, just not quite perfect 🙂 Despite the fairly detailed instructions, these are actually quite quick to make, and are pretty forgiving.
Time: 10 minutes prep, 20 min bake, 4-24 hours chill
Serves: 4-6 depending on the size of your ramekins
You Will Need:
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 4 egg yolks
- scant 1/4 cup sugar + more for topping
- 1 vanilla bean, or 2 tsp vanilla
Separate yolks from whites and set aside. Whisk 1/4 cup sugar with the egg yolks. Put the 2 cups of whipping cream into a heavy bottomed pot and set on medium low. You do NOT want your cream to boil. Split your vanilla bean, scrapping out all the seeds. You now have two choices, you can save your bean and add it to a few cups of sugar to make some vanilla sugar, you can add it to the beans in your jar of homemade vanilla extract – which one day I will get around to making, or to be super decadent, and creme brûlée is about decadence, you can add it to the pot of cream.
When the cream is steaming, add a tbsp or two at a time to the measuring cup that is holding the eggs and sugar. Whisk as you add it. Keep doing this until you have about a cup of egg and cream mixture in your measuring cup and then pour back into the pan, whisking constantly. The point of this is to ‘temper’ your eggs and to keep them from turning into scrambled eggs when you add them to the hot cream. Keep on medium low, whisking for another 2-3 min then remove from heat.
Divide mixture between ramekins. Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet, or another dish you can pour some hot water into- again, this will depend on the size/shape of your ramekins. Fill the dish with water until it is halfway up the ramekin. Place (carefully!) in preheated oven. Mine are always done in exactly 20 min, but if you’re using deep ramekins it will take considerably longer. They are done when they have set but still ‘jiggle’. To test for doneness give the pan a gentle nudge. If they are done it won’t look like liquid sloshing around, but will still have some ‘jiggle’.
Cool for 4-24 hours UNCOVERED in the fridge. I find if you cover them before they are completely cooled you get condensation on the surface, and then when you try to add the sugar to brûlée them, the sugar just kind of melts into them but it’s hard to get that nice hard crack topping.
For the brûlée part, sprinkle 1/2 – 1 tbsp of sugar over each, and using a kitchen torch brûlée them up! I usually put mine back in the fridge for ~10 min to cool things down so you get a nice crack when you tap your spoon on your sugar crust. You can also do this step in the oven under broil- but you have to REALLY watch them- it will seem like nothing is happening and then they are done. Or burnt. So be very careful if you’re doing them this way. You must watch!