Creme Brulee is a luxurious and indulgent dessert featuring a creamy custard base topped with a beautifully caramelized sugar crust. Despite its elegant appearance, it is surprisingly easy to make.
Creme Brulee is a beloved dessert known for its ultra-smooth, rich custard base, made creamier than typical custard through the use of cream and egg yolks. It’s famously topped with a brittle, caramelized sugar layer, offering a delightful contrast in textures and making it a perfect finish to any dinner.
Creme Brulee is a classic recipe that dates back at least as far as the 1800s. There’s a very good reason that it has stuck around so long and can still be found on the menu at restaurants worldwide: it’s flippin’ delicious!
Ingredients For Creme Brûlée
- Heavy Cream: I like using heavy cream for extra-rich creme brulee, but you can also use half and half.
- Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract is my go-to. You could also use one vanilla bean, split in half – just make sure to remove it before baking.
- Salt: Just a pinch or two.
- Egg Yolks
- Sugar: You’ll need a bit of sugar to sweeten the custard and to make the crunchy sugary topping.
- Boiling Water: To keep things humid in the oven (which is good for custard), we’ll be setting our ramekins in a pan of hot water, known as a bain-marie or hot water bath.
How To Make Creme Brulee
- Prep. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Set four six-ounce ramekins into a 13×9 baking dish and set aside.
- Scald the cream by heating it with vanilla and salt in a saucepan over low heat. Heat until bubbles form around the edges and it’s almost steaming, but not boiling. Remove from heat and cool for three minutes.
- Eggs and Sugar. While the cream mixture is cooling, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together in a separate bowl until light and creamy.
- Temper the Egg Mixture. To temper the egg yolk mixture, drizzle in about ¼ cup of the hot cream, whisking the entire time. When you are done, you can then whisk the tempered egg mixture into the rest of the hot cream.
- Bake. Boil water. Pour the creme brulee mixture into your ramekins, and then pour the boiling water into the pan so that it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the creme brulee for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the center is just set but still jiggly, like jello.
- Cool and Chill. Take the creme brulee out of the oven and let it cool to room temperature. Then, set the ramekins in the refrigerator, covered, to chill for at least 4 hours, overnight, or even up to two days.
- Make the Sugar Topping. Before serving, sprinkle the top of each creme brulee with a teaspoon of sugar to cover the surface of the custard. Then, caramelize the sugar by placing the ramekins under a broiler until the sugar browns on top. You can also use a kitchen torch for this if you have one.
- Tempering Eggs: If you’ve ever tempered egg yolks before, you probably know that it’s not necessarily easy to rapidly whisk the eggs while pouring in the hot liquid. My solution is to use a small ladle or measuring cup to add the hot milk, barely drizzling it in with your left hand while whisking with your right.
- Strain, If Necessary: If your custard seems to be slightly lumpy due to “scrambled eggs,” don’t despair! Pouring it through a fine mesh strainer will remove those and save your creme brulee.
- Pour Evenly: The ramekins should have equal amounts of custard for even baking. I like to place each ramekin on a small kitchen scale so that I can be sure to fill them all the same amount.
- Adding Espresso: Give your creme brulee a gentle café au lait twist by replacing a small amount of the cream with a shot of cooled espresso.
- Add Gold Leaf: For a truly special touch, decorate the finished dessert with a few tiny flakes of edible gold leaf.
Leftover creme brulee should be stored in the refrigerator, well-covered with plastic wrap for 2 to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. It’s best to keep it stored without the caramelized topping.
More Indulgent Dessert Recipes
- Easy Chocolate Cake
- Red Velvet Cheesecake with Oreo Crust
- Chocolate Eclair Cake
- Easy Tres Leches Cake
- Sopapilla Cheesecake
Easy Creme Brulee
- Preheat oven to 325˚F.
- Prepare four 6-ounce ramekins (or six 4-ounce ramekins) in a baking dish. Set aside.
- In a saucepan combine the cream, vanilla extract, and salt.
- Set over Low heat and cook just until hot, but not boiling.
- Remove from heat and let sit 3 minutes.
- In the meantime, in a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light.
- Whisk about a ¼-cup of the cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture; then pour the sugar and egg mixture into the cream mixture inside the saucepan. Continue to stir until combined.
- Pour the mixture into the ramekins.
- Fill the baking dish with the boiling water halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until center is just set.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight. These are good in the fridge for about 2 to 3 days.
- When ready to serve, top each creme brulee with a teaspoon of sugar.
- Place the ramekins in a broiler and broil until sugar melts and browns on top.