My husband and I love to check out new restaurants and we both also love Crème Brûlée. On our first visit to a new restaurant, it is always the first dessert that we order. When a restaurant has a special Crème Brûlée, we will always find a reason for a return visit.
Crème Brûlée is a custard with a caramelized sugar crust. The flavor and texture combination of this classic French dessert is delicious and simple enough to be made at home.
It may seem silly, but my favorite part of the dessert, besides the delicious taste, is cracking through the caramelized sugar with my spoon. When the crust needs a good whack with the back of a spoon to break it, you know that it is going to just be amazing.
Keep your finished plain custards in the refrigerator until shortly before serving. Sprinkle with sugar and brûlée them right before serving. Refrigerated caramelized sugar will become soft.
Whether you are celebrating a birthday, special occasion or enjoying a romantic dinner, this dish will impress everyone.
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For the perfect custard, keep a close eye on your custards while they are baking. Remove them from the oven as soon as the edges are set. The center should still be jiggly. They will continue to cook after they are removed from the oven.
2 hours to overnight
In a bowl, beat the egg yolks and granulated sugar together until light in color and doubled in size. Set aside.
In a saucepan, measure out heavy cream and salt.
If using vanilla bean, cut in half and scrape out seeds. Add seeds to saucepan. If using vanilla extract, it will be added later.
Over medium heat, stir cream mixture and bring to a very gentle simmer. Do not let boil. Remove from heat and strain through a metal sieve.
Temper the egg mixture by whisking it quickly while adding 1 tablespoon of the warm cream mixture.
Add the tempered egg mixture to the warm cream mixture. If using vanilla extract, add it to the saucepan. Stir until well combined.
Pour into 4 ramekins then place ramekins into a baking dish.
Create a water bath by gently pouring very hot water into the pan until it is half way up the ramekins. Take care not to splash any water onto the custard.
Carefully transfer baking dish to a preheated oven and bake at 325° until the custard is still light in color, the edges are set and the center is still jiggly - about 30-40 minutes.
My ramekins are 3 1/2" wide by 2" deep. Baking times will vary based on size and type of ramekins used.
Remove from oven and carefully remove ramekins from hot water bath. Place on a cooling rack and allow to come to room temperature. Wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.
Before serving, remove ramekins from the refrigerator, remove plastic wrap and allow custard to warm up for five minutes.
Spoon a generous teaspoon of granulated sugar in an even layer onto the top of the custard and brûlée, using one of the two methods below.
Using a kitchen torch, with the torch at an angle to the sugar, melt the sugar and brown until a crispy crust is formed and light golden brown to dark brown in color.
To use oven broiler: set oven rack as high as possible. Turn broiler on to high.
Set ramekins in the center of a baking sheet and place on rack. Watching very carefully and rotating sheet as needed to broil crusts evenly, until tops are golden brown.
Let ramekins sit for 5 minutes to cool before serving. Serve within 2 hours.
The prepared custard can be refrigerated tightly wrapped with plastic wrap, 2-3 days before serving.
Do not brûlée the tops of the custard until the day of serving.
If Crème Brûlée is refrigerated after the sugar has been caramelized, the crust will become soft.
This Crème Brûlée recipe is gluten free and vegetarian.