Total Time
4hrs 25mins
Prep 4 hrs
Cook 25 mins

I am not much of a dessert fan, but the one I can never resist is creme brulee. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to this dessert, because although it really is simple in both design and execution, restaurants have a curious flair for messing it up, either by making it too sweet, too bland, or scorching the sugar crust. The worst offense is pre-caramelizing the crust, then refrigerating the brulee until later. Horrible. Follow this recipe exactly and you won't go wrong.

Ingredients Nutrition

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat cream and 2 tbls sugar until just hot (small bubbles will form around the edge and a bit of steam will be released when cream is stirred).
  3. While cream is heating, separate two eggs, reserving the whites for another use (or discarding). Put the yolks in a bowl.
  4. Whisk in vanilla bean paste. This paste, made by Nielsen-Massey Vanillas and available in many upscale culinary shops and some spice shops, is a godsend and no cook who uses vanilla should be without it. If you don't have this paste, split one plump, long vanilla bean and scrape out the bean seeds inside. If you're particularly fond of vanilla, you may also add a scant amount of pure vanilla extract, but no more than 1/2 teaspoon.
  5. Add hot cream to egg yolk mixture and whisk thoroughly.
  6. Pour evenly into four creme brulee dishes.
  7. Place the creme brulee dishes in a suitably sized pan and add enough hot water (the hotter, the better) to reach about halfway up the sides of the dishes.
  8. Cover loosely with a piece of aluminum foil (do not seal, just place on the dishes).
  9. Bake for 25-27 minutes or until custard is just set.
  10. Let cool on countertop for about 10 minutes or so, then chill creme brulees in the refrigerator for a minimum of 3-4 hours. Wrapping tightly with plastic is not recommended because water will condense on underside of wrap and drip on the custard when removed.
  11. Immediately prior to serving, sprinkle a thin layer of sugar (about 1/16th inch deep) evenly over the custard. If any water puddles are present on the surface of the custard, absorb them carefully with a paper towel before sprinkling with sugar.
  12. Using (preferably) a creme brulee kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar using continuous movements with the flame. The sugar must not be scorched, which is easy to do if you let the flame linger in one location. Use as hot and large a flame as practicable so you can caramelize the sugar in short order and not "melt" the custard underneath.
  13. If you don't have a torch, a broiler can melt and caramelize the sugar, but this is not at all the preferred method. Careful attention should be paid while broiling and the dishes should be very close to the heat source.
  14. Once the sugar is caramelized, let cool briefly and serve. The crust should be glasslike and hard. Do not garnish with berries or chocolate kisses or mint leaves or whipped cream or any such nonsense. In my opinion, doing so detracts from the elegant simplicity of this classic dessert.

Reviews

(1)
Most Helpful

beyond delicious - I have made this with the addition of coconut as well for a bit of a change. Cooking times are spot on. Thank you!

Toffiffeezz November 08, 2009

Join the Conversation

  • all
  • reviews
  • tweaks
  • q & a