Recipe: Creme Brulee

The creme brulee is probably the most popular dessert in Europe and America - simply because it is difficult to visit a fine dining establishment that does not offer a version of it on the menu. It is so popular simply because it has it all: yummy, rich custard, utlra creamy and tinted with whatever flavor you desire (usually vanilla); hidden under a layer of sweet, crunchy caramelized sugar (picture to left has brulees that have not been brulee'd yet), cutting and complimenting the richness of the custard. After writing this, I could have one right now....
Another thing you probably didn't know is that you can prepare creme brulees days in advance and just brulee (burn the tops) them right before you want to serve them. If you didn't know - 99% of all restaurants make their creme brulees like this. Some even brulee them hours before you order it and just stick it in the fridge. Sad but true. But then again, if they do it why can't you? Therefore I have added some storage and re-heating tips to this recipe.
Creme brulees are super impressive to serve at your next dinner party - and they are much easier to make than you think - really it is only about 15 minutes in kitchen time and then you can pop them in the oven and go on your way.
BUT - there are only a few things you must do to ensure that you make great creme brulees:
  1. Take the temperature of your oven;
  2. Place a thermometer in your oven and turn your oven to 300 degrees. Check it 20 minutes later and see if the thermometer says 300 degrees;
  3. Then check the oven 40 minutes later and ensure that it still says 300 degrees.
I know you think I am joking, but a oven that is 20 degrees too hot - and you will end up with scrambled eggs, floating on the top of warmed vanilla milk in your creme brulee dishes...and if your oven is 20 degrees too cold, you're brulees will take 5 hours to cook or may never even cook at all.

Makes about 8 Standard Individual Creme Brulees
  • 2 c. heavy crème
  • 6 yolks
  • 2.5 oz. sugar (about 3/4 c.)
  • 4 T. vanilla (I like the paste, you get the seeds and the intense vanilla flavor of the extract)
  • liquor (optional - but a few tablespoons of grand mariner sure gives it an elegant punch)
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Lay out 8 brulee dishes in a sided, oven safe, casserole dish; then pour water into the casserole dish, making the water at least a 1/4 inch to a 1/2 inch deep.
  3. In a bowl, whisk eggs, sugar and liquor together until combined. Set aside.
  4. Warm creme on stove top until it starts to bubble over, remove from heat and let cool for a minute or so.
  5. Wrap a towl around your egg-sugar mixture bowl and place it on the counter - simply to keep your bowl from moving around. Slowly pour the warm creme into the egg-sugar mixture while whisking the egg-sugar mixture, making sure that the creme is combining and emulsifying completely.
  6. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir the custard for a minute or two - this will allow the air bubbles to rise to the top and pop, so you'll have smooth and creamy custard without air holes later.
  7. Ladel custard into creme brulee containers, leaving only an 1/8 inch at the top.
  8. Place in oven to bake for about 30 - 45 minutes until completely set and when touched in the center, the custard is 'springy'.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool.
  10. Wrap each individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate. These will be fine in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  11. When you are ready to enjoy. Remove from fridge and sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of granulated white sugar on top of 1 brulee, spread out the sugar so it is evenly coated on the custard.
  12. Start your torch and slowly move the torch (about 1 1/2 inches from the custard) in a circular motion around the brulee until all the sugar is crystalized.

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