Crème Brûlée

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Creme Brulee 2

You make plans and life laughs. That seems to be the motto for the way things have gone in the past two weeks: My husband and I planned to stay with his family in New Jersey for just five days of the holiday, but due to a few feet of unexpected snow, we ended up staying an additional twelve before flying home on January 3. While we all noshed on steak at a cozy restaurant and enjoyed a Hitchcock play in New York City, snow continued to blanket the streets and incapacitate the residents and visitors, delaying our expectedly easy return to New Jersey by hours and hours. A few days later, on the way to board a six hour flight back to Los Angeles, we learned that it was cancelled and couldn’t be rescheduled until eight days later. Pizza, wine and lots of laughs helped medicate our frustration and make the best of the unexpected bump in the road. Later, I made a pot of chili for 10 and baked blueberry muffins, shopped for cute ornaments, threw snowballs, slurped on soup, played board games and spent a lot of time talking over tea. Our New Year was spent clutching Kleenex and tending to colds, sleeping late and gathering our things for the flight home. However, regardless of the fact that nothing worked out exactly as planned, it all couldn’t have gone better.

So, now that I’m refreshed, rejuvenated and full of ideas, let’s get back to bringing you simple, scrumptious recipes – like this crème brulee – that you can make easily and quickly in your own home.

Creme Brulee

Crème brulee is often regarded as a tricky, complex dessert demanding just the right tools: shallow, scalloped dishes, a kitchen torch, a mixer for blending the ingredients to just the right consistency. They are not necessary. Not one bit.

A few standard-sized round ramekins, a broiler (either a convection or toaster oven are fine), and a baking dish are all you need. Yes, really.

I always say that anything truly good takes a bit of effort. So, while this brulee isn’t completely foolproof, it is a surprisingly simple dessert for a careful, concise home cook to whip up. And it’s just as delicious as any crème brulee I’ve had at a restaurant before.

Creme Brulee Set

Imagine soft, pillowy cream speckled with the fragrant caviar of vanilla beans, topped with a broiled brown sugar crust that yields an incredibly satisfying sound when tapped with a spoon.

Garnished with a few berries and enjoyed with a friend, this is one classic, decadent dessert you’ll go back to again and again. No restaurant reservation – or kitchen torch – necessary.

Crème Brûlée

Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Whisk the cream, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract together in a bowl. Mix it all up until it gets nice and creamy. Pour this mixture into ramekins. (It will evenly distribute between four 7-ounce dishes.)
  • Place the ramekins in a baking pan. Fill the baking pan with hot water, about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Place the pan with the ramekins in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour or so. After 45 minutes, check them every ten minutes. You'll know they're done when you can stick a knife in one and it comes out clean. Remove the ramekins from the baking pan, set them on the counter, and let them cool for 15 minutes or so.
  • Then, put them in the refrigerator and let them chill overnight.
  • Sprinkle a thin layer of the light brown sugar on the top of each. Make sure it's a THIN layer, but also make sure it completely covers the custard.
  • Preheat your toaster oven to “Broil” and place ramekins in broiling tray filled with water (add as much water as possible to keep ramekins cool), let brown sugar caramelize (about 2min), then place ramekins in a fresh water filled baking tray to cool for a minute.
  • Garnish with berries, if desired.
  • Enjoy!

Join the Conversation

  1. This looks great Georgia. I have never made creme brulee, mostly because I never had a torch so never thought of it. Funny thing is, I got a torch for Christmas and now I can also try out this recipe as well! Things are coming up Miranda!

  2. Creme Brulee is a favorite, I agree super easy too! I am glad you had fun on your *longer* vacation! I love family time and it souds like you made the best of it. ….guess what I got….a new camera. I only had a point and shoot, now I have the Rebel!!! WOOOO HOOOO

  3. This creme brulee looks super duper deeeeeeeelicious! I love it!

  4. So glad to hear you (finally) made it home okay! Sometimes the unexpected plans can make the best memories. Sounds like even though it was unplanned, you guys had a great long trip!

    Your ceme brulee looks great! I can hear the crunch of the torched topping from here. Yum!

  5. This is my very favorite dessert… yours look creamy and so delicious!!

  6. Georgia, I hope you ended up enjoying your slight bump in the road! Sometimes, unexpected plans can be the most gratifying. :)

    I’ve always shyed away from creme brulee because its reputation as a fussy dessert (i.e. the torch) but I’m glad to see that even I can make it easily! I’ve always enjoyed it, and I’ll be testing this out for my next indulgent dessert. Thanks!

  7. I’ve always wanted to make this!! Great recipe. This looks awesome.

  8. Happy New Year’s to you, Georgia. I’m glad you and your Hubby made it home safely and have mended your colds. It sounds like you kept a good attitude in what was a situation you couldn’t have controlled with all the holiday travelers and flight cancellations.

    I’ve wanted one of those torches, specifically for creme brulee…but I’m afraid of ’em – go figure. :) I like that it can be done under the broiler. I adore custards and creme brulee and this looks like a great recipe and one with lots of leftover egg whites perfect for some French macarons!

  9. Creme brulee is one of my all time favorite desserts- the crunchy top giving way to the creamy vanilla goodness just makes me swoon. :) So glad you enjoyed your extended holiday! Sometimes, unplanned adventures are the best. Glad you’re home safe, sound and warm. :) Happy New Year!

  10. happy new year to you and your family Georgia, so glad you had a great time with your family over the holidays:) This recipe looks so lovely, i really love how pretty the caramalize sugar looks.. thank you for sharing and have a great day.

  11. I love love love creme brulee. And your is beautiful. I recently bought a tiny torch for my motehr in law – I amy have to steal it abck to make these as my toaster oven is unpredictable.

  12. I am imagining a big spoonful of that deliciousness right now!!! Glad u made it home safely! Eventually… Happy New Year and Happy Cooking in 2011!

  13. Jenn's Food Journey says:

    I LOVE creme brulee… I just got a kitchen torch for Christmas this year and that was the first thing I made using it! Granted, it was not picture worthy cause I burned it in a few spots, but it was sooooooooooo good!!

  14. Susan www.myfoodobsession.com says:

    Your crème brûlée looks absolutely delicious!

  15. I wish I could just reach my spoon through the monitor and crack through the sugar topping! MMMmmm. I love creme brulee but have yet to try it at home, I’m thinking I have to now!

  16. Oh wow…this has to be the most gorgeous creme brulee ever! Your photos are really stunning…I’m tempted to make it tonight! :)

  17. I’m glad you enjoyed your extended holiday. Welcome home!

  18. Sorry to hear that your travel plans got so hampered by the weather, but glad you were able to make the most of it. I looove crème brûlée! (and totally copy/pasted it for the characters..ha!) You’re right, this does sound simple. I keep eyeing torches, but haven’t been able to justify buying one. Now I won’t! :)

  19. You can never go wrong with creme brulee.

  20. I went to France on my honeymoon and my husband and I discovered that every place we ate at had creme brulee on the menu. We, obviously, needed to try it at every place we went to ;).
    I have wanted to actually try to make it, but have been so scared I’d ruin it terribly. I think this recipe is basic enough that I can give it a shot :)! Thanks for the inspiration!!!
    PS: Your photos make me hungry. Very very hungry!

  21. These look like the ultimate dessert for a special occasion!

  22. I made the first half of this recipe last night and the cooking time wound up being about an hour and a half for me for the knife to come out clean. Do you think this was a result of having the rammekins too close together in the pan? (I used a smaller pan that fit 4 perfectly, but the sides touched a little). I plan on broiling the tops tonight for me and my boyfriends 2 year anniversary so fingers crossed!

  23. Your longer cooking time was most likely because the ramekins were a bit too close together. You have to allow them a little room for the steam effect from the water to help cook them evenly. Have a happy anniversary!

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