Crème brûlée is a deliciously satisfying and deceptively easy dish to make. Here's my go-to recipe for this tasty dessert.
Crème brûlée is a dessert consisting of a rich custard, topped with a shell of caramelized sugar. It often makes its appearance in the dessert choices of fine dining restaurants, but it is deceptively easy to make. It is the perfect dessert to go with a satisfying meal; its rich smoothness complements almost any choice of food.
Read on to learn how to make this tasty dessert.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
Serves 4 to 6
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- (Optional) 1/2 vanilla bean, substitute for vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 325°F.
- Separate your four egg yolks from the whites, saving the yolks.
- Heat a pot of water to boiling.
Step 1: Pour Cream and Mix in Extract
Add the cream into a saucepan. Mix in one teaspoon of vanilla extract, or one half of a vanilla bean with all the seeds.
Step 2: Heat Cream
Heat the cream on low heat to just above room temperature. This will speed the cooking time of the custard itself.
Note: You may scald the milk if you choose. If you are using a vanilla bean, higher temperatures will imbue more of the flavor.
Step 3: Blanch Eggs with Sugar
Place the four egg yolks into a mixing bowl. Whisk in sugar until the mixture is a smooth, pale yellow.
Step 4: Combine Egg Mixture With Cream Mixture
Combine the cream with the eggs and sugar, stirring gently so as to cause as few air bubbles as possible. Use a torch to smooth out any bubbles that appear on the surface of the mixture. These can form bubbles inside the custard itself, changing its consistency.
Important Note: If you scalded your milk, pour an ounce or so of the hot cream into the bowl, stirring immediately to prevent the cream from cooking the eggs. Slowly add in another ounce, still stirring, before pouring in the entire mixture. To give a visual cue, here is a video provided by Kenmore on YouTube, explaining the tempering of eggs.
Step 5: Strain Custard (Optional)
Pour the custard mix through a strainer. This will remove any unmixed clumps of sugar, seeds from the vanilla bean, and the vanilla bean itself.
Step 6: Pour Your Mixture
Pour the custard mixture into your ramekins, taking care to spread the mixture evenly between them. If there are any bubbles that have formed on top after pouring, smooth them out again with your torch.
Step 7: Place Ramekins and Fill the Bath
Place your ramekins into the pan you have chosen for your bain-marie or "water bath." Leave your last ramekin out of the pan, so that you can safely pour in the boiling water without risking contaminating your other ramekins with water. Once you have filled the pan up with water to roughly halfway up the ramekins, place the last one into the pan.
Note: If you don't know what a bain-marie is, I recommend doing a quick Internet search. It's quite an easy technique, but it's important to get it right.
Step 8: Cook
Now that you've mixed together your ingredients, and gotten them into your water bath, its time to put them into the oven for 40 to 45 minutes on 325°F. If you used scalded milk, the time should be lower, around 30 to 35 minutes. You can determine if the crème brûlée is finished if it jiggles like jello when you tap the edge of the ramekin. Take care to ensure that it is not too liquidy and that it does not tear when you jiggle it to test its done-ness.
Note: The cooking time will vary depending on the size and depth of the ramekins used.
Step 9: Chill
Once your crème brûlée is finished and you've taken it out of the water bath, set it on a cooling rack, and let it cool down. Once it's cooled enough, put it in the refrigerator, and let it set for several hours. Once it has chilled for several hours, it is ready for the final touches.
Step 10: Make the Caramelized Sugar Shell
To finish off your crème brûlée, you will want to add the sugary crust to the top of it. You want to do this after it has chilled, at some time just before it will be served. If you caramelize sugar on top of it and then store it for a length of time in the refrigerator, the crust will absorb the moisture of the desert, and become soggy. To create the shell, follow these steps:
- Lightly sprinkle a half and half mixture of brown sugar and granulated sugar on top of the crème brûlée. Shake off the excess, and then run your fingers along the rim of the ramekin to remove any sugar, as it will caramelize on the rim if you don't, making it harder to wash, and marring the presentation.
- With a torch, run the flame over the sugar, melting, and then caramelizing it. It will begin to lightly brown as it caramelizes.
- After there is a more or less evenly caramelized shell of sugar on top of the crème brûlée, torch a few spots just a little extra, blackening it slightly. This adds a hint of bitterness to the sweetness, enhancing the complexity of the dessert.
- (Optional) Dust the caramelized shell with a few dashes of confectioner's sugar, for both flavor and presentation. You may garnish it with a sprig of mint, or an appropriate decoration, if you wish.
- Your crème brûlée dessert should be ready. Serve, and devour.
Why I Choose Not to Scald the Milk
This is the recipe I use, adapted from my boss' recipe that we used in his restaurant. I use a few of my own methods as opposed to the more traditional ones. One of the biggest changes I make is that I choose not to scald the milk. Here is why:
Note on Scalding Milk: Scalding milk, or cream, accomplishes several things:
- It kills harmful bacteria in the milk of cream that may present a health risk.
- It removes enzymes that affect the manner in which the milk or cream performs.
- It raises the temperature of the milk to increase cooking time.
- It increases the rate at which flavorings diffuse into the milk or cream.
Modern-day pasteurization accomplishes the first two of these tasks before you even buy your cream. The third can be accomplished without heating the milk to scalding temperatures. The fourth task only applies when using real vanilla beans, and will only marginally affect the flavor in most cases. It can also be accomplished by substituting more time rather than more temperature.
Because of this, I usually choose not to scald milk in the process of making this dessert, as it complicates the recipe unnecessarily in my opinion, and opens it up to complete failure.
Well, that is the gist of how I make my own crème brûlée. If you try it and enjoy it, let me know, and thanks for reading! If you didn't like it, I'd also appreciate your comments on what you think could be done differently to improve it.
© 2012 TomBlalock
Nell Rose from England on June 18, 2012:
Hi, this is one of those recipes that I would completely mess up! lol! so you did a great job, and it looks good too, cheers nell
barbeque beef on May 22, 2012:
Thank you for sharing your work and impressions. I love your choices. http://cattleboyzsauce.com
TomBlalock (author) from Hickory, NC on May 21, 2012:
You can just toss some sugar into a pan, along with a bit of water, and do it that way. It works, and in fact, when I was working at the restaurant, that was how we did it. The downside is that the sugar crust is MUCH thicker that way. My parents don't much care for it prepared that way, although I like it. I've heard you can also broil it on, but I haven't tried it yet.
Donna MMoney on May 20, 2012:
You did a Great Job! Good Luck!
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on May 20, 2012:
Congrats on Hub of the Day!
Well presented and explained.
I don't blame you for not scalding the milk--the last time I made that mistake was on the advice of an old-geezer of a pediatrician who said I should boil the milk before feeding it to the baby...I ruined a saucepan, said something quite unladylike, and said, "never again!"
Your dessert LOOKS delicious...sadly, I don't care much for custard..but I did want to offer you props on a well done article and for HOTD!
Fabiana03 from California on May 20, 2012:
Jenn from Pennsylvania on May 20, 2012:
I've never tried Creme Brulee, but now I really want to!
Shalah Chayil from Billings, Montana on May 20, 2012:
Looks yummy. I can almost taste if from the picture.
iefox5 on May 20, 2012:
Creme Brulee is a great food, it seems that the recipe works and works well. Will have a try someday.
Keneesha M Hodge from Chicago, Illinois on May 20, 2012:
I love Creme Brulee and now that you have shown me how to make it at home, I will have it all the time. The only thing I want to know is what if I don't have a torch? Would you suggest caramelizing the sugar in a pan first then spreading across? Or should I just quit playing and invest in a torch if I plan on making this delicious dessert?
Cathleena Beams from Tennessee on May 20, 2012:
Looks yummy and complicated! I love this delicious treat. Last time I had some was at a restaurant and I shared with a friend. Never attempted to make it myself, but now that I have the recipe (yours) I can. Thanks for sharing!
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 20, 2012:
Well, it looks delicious. You did a great job listing the steps, and the photos are REAL good. Great Hub, and congratulations on the HOTD!
Mary Strain from The Shire on May 20, 2012:
Creme Brulee is my favorite dessert. Thanks for showing me how to make my own!
Brian Collins on May 20, 2012:
OMG I gained 5 pounds just reading this, Can't wait to try it for another 5.
TomBlalock (author) from Hickory, NC on May 20, 2012:
Thanks, everyone, for the comments, reads, and otherwise! Would not have expected any of my articles to make Hub of the Day, but I'll take what I can get!
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 20, 2012:
We have eaten creme brulee in restaurants but have never made it at home. All we need is the torch and a serious exercise program to burn off the calories. Ha! Good hub. Congratulations on getting a HOTD award. Nice and easy directions. Voted useful.
Milli from USA on May 20, 2012:
Oh, Look so delicious. I would love to try this. Thanks for the step by step display. Voted up!
Congrats on HOTD!
Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 20, 2012:
Great job with this recipe! I love how you've broken down all of the steps. This is a great resource for anyone who wants to attempt this dish for the first time. Congrats on getting Hub of the Day!
Nina L James from chicago, Illinois on May 20, 2012:
This dessert looks delicious!!!!! A perfect ending to any dinner. Your instructions are simple and easy to follow. All I can say is yum!! yum!! yum!!! Voted up and away!!!!!!
Modern Lady from Chicago, IL on May 20, 2012:
I've always been intimidated by Creme Brulee. You've laid it out in a very straightforward way. It seems very doable. I'll have to give it a try.
Ibrahim Vet from Egypt on May 20, 2012:
OH, I wish I could eat it out of the screen :D:D
Great Hub. Keep it up.
Marlene Bertrand from USA on May 20, 2012:
I have never had this before. But, reading your recipe makes me want to bake up a batch to try it. It looks delicious. You did an excellent job of explaining everything, so I should be able to accomplish making it with ease. By the way, congratulations on receiving Hub of the Day!
Melanie Chisnall from Cape Town, South Africa on May 20, 2012:
Yum, this is one of my favourite recipes! It might be a bit of extra effort than other desserts, but it's so worth it! Great hub! :)
Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on May 20, 2012:
Oooooh - mmmmmm! I was given a kitchen torch as a gift, and a set of ramikins (I'd been craving them), and I'm so eager to use them! Creme Brûlée is one of my favorite dishes. Thanks for the great hub! So deserving of the HOTD!
Subhas from New Delhi, India on May 20, 2012:
I have really fallen in love for this dish and having a sweet tooth will compel me to make one every now and then. Great hub.
Kavita Kapoor from London on May 20, 2012:
Yummy! I love Creme Brulee one of my favourite desserts. I definitely will be trying this recipe out... Thanks for sharing! :)
Fierce Manson from Atlanta on May 20, 2012:
Tom you did an awesome job on this recipe! I must add you made this step by step instructions to making Creme Brulee is incredibly easy that even I would try making it myself. I never even thought of making it myself until seeing your hub. Thanks, and congrats on being hub of the day!
Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on May 20, 2012:
Congrats on Hub of the Day! The step-by-step instructions and photos are great.
Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on May 20, 2012:
I love creme brulee! Violette French Restaurant in Atlanta makes an awesome creme brulee. Thanks for sharing your recipe for making it. Looks like something I could tackle( (I like easy), but I don't have a torch, either. Is there another way to get the same results with the sugar? Congrats on Hub of the Day. Well deserved.
a2aoptima from Bangalore, Karnataka on May 20, 2012:
yummy... congrats for bagging the "hob of the day"... Keep up the great work.
Rain Defence from UK on May 20, 2012:
I love creme brulee, although I've never cooked it before. I would love to do it but I don't have a torch. Is there any alternative to using one?
Thelma Alberts from Germany on May 20, 2012:
Yummy! Congrats on the hub of the day! Voted up and useful. Have a great sunday! Thanks for sharing.
Cathy from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri on May 20, 2012:
Thumbs up! Excellent! I absolutely love Creme Brulee. The Heartline Cafe in Sedona, Arizona makes the best of it too! You did a great job in your presentation here. Thanks much.
TomBlalock (author) from Hickory, NC on May 13, 2012:
I hadn't. In retrospect, seeing it in the article, I really wish I'd put in a summary that wasn't incredibly lame compared to the others listed!
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 13, 2012:
Clear instruction to make a Cream Brulee. Thanks. Congrats on you nomination.
Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on May 13, 2012:
This was a great step by step instruction. I saw this on Masterchef show and so this is truly helpful for those cooks who would like to try it out.
Have you heard that your hub has been nominated on the Hubnuggets? This way to read and vote https://koffeeklatchgals.hubpages.com/hub/Hubnugge...
Tanuka Bhattacharjee from Cupertino on May 11, 2012:
It looks tempting......
TomBlalock (author) from Hickory, NC on May 08, 2012:
Give it a shot. Doesn't take long at all, without that step of scalding the milk and all!
Om Paramapoonya on May 08, 2012:
Yum! This looks so good. I already know I'll love it, despite not having tried it yet. =D