Lemon Creme Brulee Cupcakes

"Other creme brulee cupcake recipes get the brulee part right, but not the creme part. This gives you the whole thing, with punch of lemon that's a bit like a lemon drop candy. This requires a brulee torch, since the sugar absorbs into the surface too quickly to use a broiler."
photo by Late Night Gourmet photo by Late Night Gourmet
photo by Late Night Gourmet
Ready In:
3hrs 30mins




  • Zest lemons into a small bowl and set aside. Juice lemons into a separate bowl and set aside.
  • Whisk sugar and cornstarch together in a medium saucepan. Add half-and-half and whisk until fully combined. Add egg yolks and lemon zest and whisk thoroughly.
  • Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently with a large spoon. Continue stirring until liquid thickly coats the back of the spoon.
  • Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and butter until blended. Pour through strainer into a container. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until set.
  • Once filling is set, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Combine butter with brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Blend in eggs, vanilla extract, salt, and half-and-half.
  • With a mixer running on low, gradually blend in baking powder and flour, scraping down the sides if needed.
  • Place 24 cupcake papers in cupcake tin, and spoon batter evenly into each.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out cleanly from the cupcakes. Remove from cupcake tin and allow to cool somewhat.
  • Remove wrappers from the cakes. This is necessary to keep the paper from buring when the torch is used.
  • Scoop out some of the cake to make a well, ensuring it's about a 1/4 inch thick (thinner than that my cause the filling to leak through the sides). Press together any holes that bubbles may formed in the carved out cake to ensure the filling stays in the cake.
  • Spoon enough filling to fill the well, and smooth out to make a level surface. Don't spend too much time with making it perfectly smooth.
  • Sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar on a few cupcakes at a time. Don't do more than a few at a time because the sugar will start to be absorbed by the filling. Tap the sides of the cupcake to level out the sugar if needed. Using a brulee torch, melt the sugar on the surface of the first cupcake. When it starts to smoke, move on to the next cupcake. Return to the first cake, if needed, to melt the remaining sugar. Repeat, doing a few at a time, until done.

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I have two teenagers who keep things very busy around our house during the daytime. I also work long hours at Ford Motor Company, and I do want to spend time with my family every day. If I try to cook when my kids have their friends over, I'm certain to be interrupted. In other words, my available times for cooking are very limited. I don't want to give up on anything I love - my family, my job, my cooking - so I do most of my cooking after everyone has gone to bed. My wife is a teacher, so this can be very late at night during the summer. Sometimes, I don't get started with my prep work until 12:30 a.m. Am I crazy?? Maybe. I'm also constantly working on healthier ways to prepare food. I deconstruct every recipe I like, and try to make it with healthier ingredients. The big challenge is keeping the food tasty. I believe it's possible to enjoy what you eat and still be healthy. I lost 15 pounds in 6 months largely by preparing my own food (and exercising). If I didn't keep such loony hours, I'd call myself "The Healthy Gourmet".
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