Ah, crème brûlée! The delicious classic composed of a silky-smooth custard topped with a glossy, hard layer of torched caramelized sugar. How could you resist? While this dessert seems a bit daunting for some, this is such an easy and delicious recipe that you can use this as a base off which to experiment. Espresso crème brûlée? Lemon? Lavender? I’d love to know which is your favourite!
There are a few tricks to making the perfect crème brûlée. The first is tempering the eggs. Tempering eggs involves whisking them in your stand mixer while hot (but not boiling!) cream is slowly drizzled in, which stabilizes the cream. If you pour in the hot cream too quickly, it can actually cook the egg yolks and then you’ve basically got an omelette. Here you’ll notice that once the hot cream is added, the mixture is strained to remove any remnants of egg. If you see a few yolk-like bits in your sieve, don’t worry! As long as the custard doesn’t taste eggy, you’re good to go.
The second trick is setting up a Bain-Marie. This is a water bath for baked goods like cheesecake and crème brûlée to be partially submerged in as they bake. The water inside is very hot and creates steam inside your oven which yields a more even and gentle bake, and prevents any cracks on the surface or overcooking! This is the secret to crack-free cheesecakes. You need to be careful here when you place your ramekins in the water firstly not to burn yourself, but also not to let any water get into the ramekins.
Lastly, make sure you cool the crème brûlée very slowly. You’ll know it’s finished baking when you give it a little jiggle and the sides don’t move but the center still wiggles a bit like jell-o! At this point, you can turn your oven off and crack the door open for a while, slowly bringing the ramekins to the countertop and once they’re at room temperature moving them to the fridge to set. You should be left with a gorgeous, luscious cream that is not too runny and not too stiff. When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle sugar evenly over the entire surface and use a kitchen torch to carefully melt and caramelize the sugar into a glossy surface. You’ll know it’s right if you tap on the surface with a spoon gently and it sounds like glass! Check out my Instagram page @luxe.baker and in the reels section you’ll find a funny little video where I show how much the cream should jiggle coming out of the oven, how I torch them and how they should look and sound. Enjoy!
Preheat your oven to 325F. Place a rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven.
In a saucepan, heat the cream for 5 minutes without letting it come to a boil. In a stand mixer on medium speed, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until they are pale yellow. When the cream is hot and steaming, add the vanilla to it and then slowly and steadily pour the cream into the egg/sugar mixture with the mixer running, to ensure the eggs don’t curdle. Strain the mixture and skim off all the foam until you can see the yellow cream beneath. Pour into 4 ramekins. Prepare a Bain Marie – a large pan with high sides with hot water. Carefully place your ramekins inside, without splashing any water inside your crème brûlée. The hot water inside the pan should reach about halfway up your ramekins.
Bake 40 minutes or until sides are set but middle jiggles like jell-o. At the 40 minute mark, turn the oven off and crack the door open. Slowly cool the ramekins, bringing them to the countertop. Once room temperature, transfer them to the fridge to set for a minimum of 2 hours.
Just before serving, sprinkle a layer of sugar on top (approximately 2 tbsp) and torch carefully, until the sugar caramelizes and forms a glossy, hard, shiny surface. Enjoy!
I'm Alina and I love making fabulous desserts. My goal is to teach you how to make delicious desserts from scratch to impress your guests, friends, and family!
Baking with Alina