Crème Brulée, at its most basic, is a baked custard that is creamy and pudding-like with a brittle top of melted sugar that breaks when you tap it with a spoon. Eggs, sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream make the custard. When served, the melting sugar crust will be warm to the touch or at room temperature, while the custard beneath will be cold.
Crème Brulée can be flavored with fruit or caramel, although vanilla is the traditional flavor. Eating it is enjoyable partly because it is a study in contrast. To reveal the creamy custard beneath the hard sugar surface, gently crack it with the side of your spoon. Each bite will contain custard and a small amount of crunchy topping.
Preparing Crème Brulée
How to make the custard: In a saucepan, warm the cream, sugar, and vanilla bean. Whisk egg yolks and a little more sugar in a bowl. Remove the vanilla bean before slowly whisking the warm cream into the yolks. This serves as both your custard and the creme brulee’s foundation.
Then bake the custard by dividing the ingredients among several ramekins, make a water bath by pouring boiling water halfway up, then bake the ramekins until the custard is firm but still jiggly. Let the custards cool down.
To caramelize the top, use a creme brulee burner to caramelize the sugar onto the surface before serving. This will create a brittle crust.
2 cups of heavy cream
Granulated sugar split into ten teaspoons
1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Four big yolks of eggs
One-half teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/8 of a teaspoon of kosher salt
4 teaspoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons per ramekin
- Preheat the oven to 325°F with the center rack. Set aside six 4-ounce ramekins in a 9×13 baking dish.
- To prepare the vanilla bean, cut it in half and use a paring knife’s dull (non-cutting) side to scrape off the seeds.
- Warm the cream by combining it with 4 tablespoons of sugar, a vanilla bean pod, vanilla bean seeds, and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook until it starts to simmer over medium heat.
- When the cream starts to simmer, turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let it stand for 15 minutes so the vanilla bean can infuse into the cream. You can skip this step if you choose to use vanilla extract in place of the vanilla bean.
- Separate the egg yolk and egg white when the cream is almost done infusing. Save the whites for later use and add the yolks to a medium mixing bowl. The yolks should be whisked with the remaining six tablespoons of sugar. Avoid mixing the eggs and sugar too quickly before adding the warm cream. This will cause lumps to form in your custard.
- Add the boiling cream in a thin stream, roughly 1/4 to 1/3 cup at a time, while beating the yolks continuously. Do this a further two or three times. Add the vanilla extract and the remaining cream to the egg mixture while whisking. After straining the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a different bowl, discard the vanilla bean pod.
- To the inner rim of each ramekin, or about three-quarters filled, divide the custard between them.
- Bring water in a kettle or pot to a boil. The boiling water should be poured into the pan until it reaches about two-thirds of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Keep water from dripping onto the custards.
- Place the custard pan in the oven, and bake for 38 to 40 minutes. When done, the crème brulee should have a consistent jiggle in the middle and slightly spring back when touched. They aren’t fully finished if the sides maintain stability but the center slides.
- Place the baking dish on a wire cooling rack after removing it from the oven. When you can securely pick up the ramekins, let the custards cool in the water. then wrap each ramekin in plastic and put it in the refrigerator. Before serving, chill for at least 4 hours.
- Take the custards out of the refrigerator when you’re ready to serve. Equally distributed one teaspoon sugar over the top of each custard. Rotate the custard as you sprinkle to distribute the sugar is uniformly.
- Start the torch. Keep the flame 4 inches or less from the sugar’s surface. Move the flame across the surface in a circular manner till the sugar is golden brown. Let it cool for at least two minutes before serving.