On our trip to Paris a couple of years ago, I fell in love with this french dessert – Crème Brûlée. The tender creme custard contrasting with the crisp caramelized sugar on top yields a perfect combination every food lover will savor. Ever since then, I wished to be able to make this at home some day. The recipe is easy to make, only 4 ingredients needed but it calls for a need of a little more time than normal desserts would take. This is because of the baking, setting and the caramelizing time it takes to get it through. But hey, the patience is for sure worth it!! And the best part is, you can prepare the custard a couple of days before you are entertaining guests and stash it in the refrigerator. On the day of consumption, take it out, spread the sugar, broil it (you can use the blow torch if you have one) and serve. That’s it. 🙂
Prep time: 10 min
Total time: 3 hours
Serves: 2 (makes 2 ramekins)
Here’s what you need:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- Half of 1/3rd cup of sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 ramekins
Here’s what you do:
- Pre heat the oven at 325 degrees F.
- Heat the heavy whipping cream on low just until bubble start to form on the edges (~140 degrees F temp).
- While the cream is heating, in a mixing bowl whip the egg yolks and sugar until the yolk color changes from dark yellow to a pale yellow (~2-3 min)
- As soon as the whipping cream starts forming bubbles, turn off the stove and mix in the heated whipping cream into the egg yolk+sugar mixture starting with a very small quantity. You want to start by mixing a very small quantity of the cream into the yolk mixture to avoid the curdling of the egg yolks. Keep adding small quantity of the cream and keep stirring in the mixture. Add the vanilla essence and set aside once everything is fully mixed in.
- Now, we want to cook the custard in a water bath. The reason for that is that the little ramekins of crème brûlée will overcook easily. So put a wet towel or parchment paper on the bottom of a heavy bottom baking pan (I used a 9 inch round cake baking pan) and also pour some boiling water at the end, too.
- Place the empty ramekins in the baking pan on top of the parchment paper, fill them with the custard and then pour some boiling water in the cake pan at the end, about half way to the top of the ramekins.
- Place the entire baking pan in the pre heated over and bake the custard for about 30-35 min. Check them at about 25 min. Basically you want to take them out as soon as they start wiggling a little on gently tapping (jelly like consistency).
- Take them out of the water bath and let them cool a bit. Then refrigerate for ~ 2 hours (to firmly set).
- Once ready to serve, bring them out of the refrigerator. Spread a generous amount of sugar on the top of each ramekin and distribute evenly. I used the normal white sugar, but you can choose to use brown sugar. Make sure to not let the sugar layer be too thin because that would burn the custard when caramelizing the sugar.
- Once the sugar is spread, turn on the broiler in your oven and set it to high. Place the ramekins as close to the flame as possible (I used an inverted cake pan and put the ramekins on the top on a rack closest to the flame). Keep turning the ramekins around to get an even coverage of the caramelization.
- One tip is to be patient in the entire process of caramelizing. You won’t see the sugar burn in the first 3-4 min which will make you wonder if something is ever going to happen. But then as it hits the 4th minute, it gets moving. So give it some time. Blow torch will give out the best results for sure but I didn’t have one. Broiler results weren’t the best, but they weren’t bad either. The sugar did brown and turn hard and crispy which is what you’d expect out of your creme brûlée in the end.
- Once caramelized put it back in the refrigerate until ready to be eaten.
- You can cover the leftover ramekins with a saran wrap and store in the refrigerator for a day or two.
- Enjoy 🙂