Crème brûlée is a vanilla baked custard with a caramelized sugar topping.
The fun of eating it is crashing through the brittle sugar with a spoon to get at the delectable custard underneath. You can’t have one without the other, the crunch and the creaminess go hand in hand.
If you think crème brûlée is a fussy, out-of-reach dessert, too hard to make at home, best eaten at restaurants, then you’d be wrong on all accounts. In reality it’s one of the easiest, requiring only four ingredients and about 20 minutes of time.
My first encounter with crème brûlée took my by surprise because I never understood the lure of it. What was so great about a bunch of baked eggs? I’d much rather have a piece of cake! Silly, silly, silly girl.
Never dismiss something so callously when so many people are crazy about it and you haven’t even tried it yourself. Lesson learned.
Anywho, you can guess what happened next. One bite of crème brûlée and I was sold. BFF’s for life.
Crème brûlée is not just about the eggs. There’s heavy cream, sugar and vanilla involved too. That’s all it takes to make one of the most loved desserts in the whole wide world.
It’s easier than you might think to make at home! If you have 20 minutes you can make crème brûlée.
The heavy cream is heated until it just starts to simmer and then left to cool off a little. You can use a a vanilla bean to flavor it or a good vanilla extract. If using the latter it goes into the egg yolks.
While the heavy cream is cooling off you whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract together. A ladle of the warm cream is mixed in to temper the eggs so they don’t scramble and cook then the rest of the cream is whisked in slowly.
If by chance some of the eggs do cook and you see little lumps – don’t despair – you haven’t ruined it. Pour it through a wire mesh strainer and proceed with baking. Some recipes call for straining whether you get lumps or not but you really don’t need to do that to get a silky soft custard.
Then you bake them off in a water bath and thoroughly chill before making the burnt sugar topping. You can use a mini torch or your broiler. A mini torch works better – it’s easier to control and it’s ridiculously fun.
No need to wait for the next visit to your favorite restaurant to have day-dreamy crème brûlée!
It’s yours for the taking.
- 1 + ¾ cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean.
- 4 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup sugar + 4 teaspoons for the tops
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Place 4 (5 - 6 ounce) ramekins in a roasting/baking pan.
- Fill a kettle and boil.
- Meanwhile, heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat (if using a vanilla bean - split it and scrape out the seeds - add them and the vanilla bean to the pot and whisk) until it just comes to a simmer then remove from heat. Let it cool down 5 - 10 minutes.
- Add the egg yolks to a large mixing bowl (preferably with a pouring spout) and use a fork to pick out any little white spots - discard them. Add the ¼ cup sugar and whisk until just combined.
- Whisk in one ladle of the warm cream to temper the eggs then whisk in two ladles. Slowly add the rest of the cream while whisking gently until well combined but not frothy.
- Stir in the vanilla extract if not using a vanilla bean.
- If you see little lumps in your custard then you should pour it through a wire mesh strainer before baking. If not, you can skip this step.
- Divide among the ramekins. Fill the pan with hot water coming ½ way up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake 40 - 55 minutes until the custard is mostly set but still slightly jiggly in the center.
- Remove from the oven and take the ramekins out of the pan with a spatula - cool on wire racks for about 30 minutes then refrigerate until chilled completely about 3 hours.
- Right before serving sprinkle each one with 1 teaspoon sugar. Use a mini blow torch to caramelize the sugar - hold it a few inches away and move it slowly in circles until the sugar bubbles then turns golden.
- Let them cool off a few minutes before eating.
- *You can also use the broiler to caramelize them - keep the oven door open and keep a close eye on them. They will only take 1 - 3 minutes. The sugar can go from browned to burnt in just a few seconds.
Nutrition Information:Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g