This crème brûlée recipe will blow your mind.
Crème brûlée is a traditional French dessert that literally means burnt (brûlée ) cream (crème). It is usually served in individual ramekins, which are small oven dishes used for baking. It belongs to the same family as the Spanish burnt cream, crema catalana.
They both are called “burnt creams” because they are desserts that consist of a custard base topped with burnt sugar. This caramelized crust is achieved by sprinkling sugar on the surface and subsequently burning it with a kitchen torch or an iron burner.
So if you want to reach the rich custard and enjoy its flavor, first you’ll need to crack the caramel layer with a spoon! Mmmm…
Crème Brûlée History
The origins of crème brûlée are still uncertain, however, it seems that the crema catalana had a great influence on the creation of this French dessert. The first known recipe for crema catalana appears in a 14th century Catalan cookbook, Llibre de Sent Soví. And it also appears in another medieval recipe book from the 16th century, Llibre de Coch. On the other hand, the origins of the crème brûlée are situated at the end of the 17th century. It is said that the chef François Massialot created this recipe during a meal organized by Philippe d’Orléans, brother of the king Louis XIV of France.
This vanilla cream is one of the most popular desserts in France. Its creamy texture can only be reached by going through the crisp caramelized crust.
Crème Brûlée vs. Crema Catalana
These two creams belong to the same family of custards, but there are certain differences between them.
The first one is the elaboration process. Crema catalana is cooked in a saucepan, where it gets its consistency. In addition, we use cornstarch for thickening. Crème brûlée is a French dessert baked in the oven, thus achieving a creamy texture and a delicate flavor.
Another differences are the ingredients used. Crème brûlée is made with milk and cream and flavored with vanilla, while crema catalana uses only milk and lemon and cinnamon to flavor its custard.
How to Make Crème Brûlée
This creme brulee recipe is made with milk, heavy cream, vanilla beans, egg yolks and granulated sugar. You only need as equipment a saucepan, an oven, a whisk and 4 ramekins.
1st step: Flavor Milk
1. In a saucepan, pour 1 cup of whole milk.
2. Cut two vanilla beans in half lengthwise. Once opened, scrape the seeds inside with a knife and add them into the milk.
3. Add in a lemon peel. It is important that the lemon peel has no white part as it bitters. Tip: use a potato peeler or a vegetable knife when peeling the lemon.
4. Stir for 5 minutes until boiling over medium heat (level 6). When it comes to a boil, remove from heat and set aside. Allow the milk to cool down to room temperature.
2nd Step: Turn On the Oven
5. Preheat the oven to 100ºC (212ºF).
3rd Step: Make the Cream
6. Get 5 medium size eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. In a bowl, add the yolks and, with the help of a whisk, stir very slowly so that the yolks don’t foam.
7. Add 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar into the egg yolk mixture and stir until the sugar dissolves. Keep in mind that the yolks must not froth or become pale.
8. Add 1 cup of heavy whipping cream into the yolks. Stir with the whisk (no beating!) until combined.
9. Pour the milk into the yolk mixture through a sieve. Stir gently with the whisk until blended.
10. Carefully pour the mixture into the ramekins. In this step, I used the strainer again to remove all the lumps. I do this so that the texture of the creme brulee gets smoother and finer.
11. Place the ramekins in the oven and bake for an hour and a half. Remember that these types of creams (crème brulee, Spanish custard, crema catalana) thicken as they cool down, so don’t worry if you see that the cream is not thick enough, or a bit liquid, when you take it out of the oven.
12. Take the cream out of the oven and let it cool to room temperature for about ten minutes. Then, put it to chill in the refrigerator for three hours. Keep in mind this resting time in case you want to serve the cream the same day or overnight.
4th Step: Make the Caramelized Crust
13. It’s time to make the caramelized, crunchy crust that we love so much! Before serving, sprinkle sugar on the surface of each ramekin. With a small kitchen torch, carefully bring the blue flame close to the sugar until it becomes first liquid and subsequently turns golden brown. Et voilà! You have just made one of the most famous French desserts in the world, the creme brulee!
More Traditional Custard Desserts
If you are fond of custard-type desserts, you can also try these delicious traditional custard recipes. These desserts, including creme brulee, are gluten-free.
- Crema Catalana: This traditional Spanish burnt cream, which first recipes date back to the 14th century, is distinguished by its citrus and cinnamon aroma and its crunchy caramelized crust.
- Spanish Flan: This classic flan is egg custard baked in a water bath and topped with caramel sauce.
- Spanish Custard (Natillas): This Spanish custard is a simple dessert to make since it’s made with basic ingredients.
- Pastry Cream: This creamy custard is a basic resource in the baker’s kitchen and usually piped into many desserts.
If you liked this Creme brulee recipe, I invite you to make other French desserts such as chocolate mousse, floating islands, or pain perdu.
Crème Brûlée Recipe
- 5 medium size eggs
- 6 tbsp sugar 75 gr
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream 250 ml
- 1 cup whole milk 250 ml
- 2 vanilla beans
- 1 lemon peel
- 6 tbsp sugar 75 gr
Flavor the Milk
- In a saucepan, pour 1 cup of milk.
- Cut two vanilla beans in half lengthwise. Once opened, scrape the seeds inside with a knife and add them into the milk.
- Add in a lemon peel.
- Put on medium heat (level 6) and stir for 5 minutes until boiling. When it comes to a boil, remove from heat and set aside. Allow the milk to cool down to room temperature.
Turn on the Oven
- Preheat the oven to 100ºC (212ºF).
Make the Cream
- Separate the yolks from the whites. In a bowl, add the yolks and, with the help of a whisk, stir very slowly so that the yolks don’t foam.
- Add the sugar into the yolks and stir until the sugar dissolves. Keep in mind that the yolks must not froth or become pale.
- Add 1 cup of heavy whipping cream into the yolks. Stir with the whisk (no beating!) until well combined.
- Pour the milk into the yolk mixture through a sieve. Stir gently with the whisk until blended.
- Carefully pour the mixture into the ramekins.
- Bake for an hour and a half.
- Take the cream out of the oven and let it cool to room temperature for about ten minutes. Then, put it to chill in the refrigerator for three hours.
Make the Caramelized Crust
- Before serving, sprinkle sugar on the surface of each ramekin. With a small kitchen blowtorch, carefully bring the blue flame close to the sugar until it becomes first liquid and subsequently turns golden brown.