Crèmes Brûlée (which translates to “burnt cream”) is one of the most raved about French desserts of all time – and for good reason. The two contrasting layers of luscious vanilla cream under a crackly caramelized sugar top are a match made in heaven and make this dessert stand out from all the others.
Even better: you’ll be surprised at how simple it is to make Crème Brûlée in your own kitchen. You simply need 5 ingredients (that you probably already have on hand) and just a little knowledge that I’ll share in the cooking notes below.
This is a wonderfully easy recipe to make for entertaining: you can prepare the crèmes ahead of time, chill them for up to 24 hours, and “burn them” right before serving.
- Use the freshest eggs possible.
- Use individual oven-safe ramekins (4 oz). You can opt for shallow ramekins or lower-rims ramekins which offers more surface area… meaning more crackly burnt top!
- Do not skip out on the water bath. Crèmes Brûlées must be baked in a water bath. This creates the right amount of humidity within the oven so the crèmes can bake to a perfect softness. Without a water bath, they would end up rubbery.
- A kitchen blow torch is optional, but I highly recommend it. For burning the top of the crèmes, you need some quick and intense heat, so the top can caramelize while the crème underneath stays at room-temperature (and doesn’t bake any further). Having tried to make crèmes brûlées with both a kitchen blow torch and in an oven broiler, I think the best result (by far!) is achieved with a kitchen blow torch. If you don’t have one, this is a great little investment to make. I have this Culinary Butane Torch and love it!
2 1/4 cups (560 ml) heavy whipping cream (35%)
¼ tsp salt
1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped OR 1 tsp vanilla extract
5 large egg yolks
½ cup (100g) sugar
Make sure you read the cooking notes before you start.
Pre-heat your oven to 325F (170C) with a rack in the middle.
In a medium saucepan, heat up the heavy whipping cream with the salt and vanilla seed scrapings (or vanilla extract). Do not bring the cream to a boil, just heat it up to let the vanilla infuse.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with ¼ cup (50g) sugar. Pour 2 tablespoons of the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture and stir (this tempers the egg yolks so they don’t curdle later). Slowly stir in the rest of the hot cream while continuously whisking.
Place 4 large (or 6 small) crèmes brûlées ramekins into a larger baking dish or sheet pan, and fill the ramekins with the crème. Fill the larger baking dish with water ¾ up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake the crèmes for 40 minutes. The edges should be set and the center should still jiggle slightly.
Carefully transfer to a cooling rack and let cool (ramekins still in the water bath). When cool enough to handle, transfer the ramekins out of the water bath and let cool to room temperature.
Sprinkle sugar onto each crème and tap the dishes around gently to make sure the sugar evenly covers the tops. Make sure no cream is left exposed.
Caramelize the tops quickly using a blow torch. Let cool 30 seconds for the top to harden and serve immediately.
If you try this Classic French Crème Brûlée recipe let me know! Leave a comment or share a photo using #pardonyourfrench on Instagram. Bon Appétit!
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