This is the ultimate Crème brûlée recipe with smooth and silky texture, crunchy top yet balanced in sweetness. Making Crème brûlée is shockingly easy, it comes together in literally 5 minutes using 3 simple ingredients: cream, egg yolk and sugar. This is a no fail, restaurant like professional Crème brûlée recipe that will impress everyone, try it!
What is Crème brûlée?
Crème brûlée also known as burnt cream and similar to crema catalana, is a super popular dessert across the globe that consists of a rich custard base cream topped with a layer of hardened caramelized sugar. It is often available on the restaurants´ dessert menu and normally served chilled in individual Ramekin. The custard base is traditionally flavored with vanilla but can have other flavorings too eg. coffee, cinnamon, elderflower, lemon etc.
Crème brûlée is naturally gluten-free, if that concerns you.
My Top 5 Baking Tips for home bakers
- Read the recipe carefully including my tips and recommendations on how to avoid and fix typical issues during baking
- Avoid using substitutes and changing the recipe unless you are aware of how to fully reformulate the recipe in order to keep the balance in texture as well as flavour. Reducing sugar, replacing egg, using ingredients not on the right temperature etc. will all have an impact on your baking
- For consistent, happy baking experience always measure your ingredients with the help of a Digital scale. Cup measurement is provided as an indicative figure only and might be used for less complex and large batch recipes however it is not an appropriate method for more delicate, complex pastries
- Did you know that most home ovens can significantly under or oven run? Also, oven temperature hugely drops when opening the oven door therefore it is recommended to always pre-heat the oven above the required baking temperature.
- Temperature is so important when it comes to baking and accurate oven temperature is key, can make or break any recipe. Make sure you invest into an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer to avoid under baked, burnt, sad looking desserts
First let’s start with some important notes regarding the ingredients of this Crème brûlée recipe
- Heavy cream: Also known as whipping cream or double cream, has a fat content between 36% and 40% . I am using 36% cream in most of my recipes that makes this Crème brûlée super silky and creamy
- Granulated sugar: I use simple, white granulated sugar, nothing fancy . If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here.
- Egg: You will need to use the egg yolk only for making custard. Since you will have quite a bit of egg white left, why not try some of my other recipes using egg white only, for example my macaron recipe or Angel food cake recipe !
- Demerara sugar: I find demera sugar is ideal for caramelizing the top however can be substituted with light brown sugar or even granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract: I prefer the traditional vanilla custard when it come to Crème brûlée recipes! Avoid using artificial vanilla especially when vanilla is THE Queen of the flavourings like in this custard . There are several great brands for fine, pure vanilla, I use Nielsen massey which I love and really recommend
Now let’s continue with my top 4 tips regarding the technique of making this Crème brûlée recipe
It’s a super simple recipe and don’t have to overthink however there are some important notes worth considering!
1. How to make custard for this Crème brûlée recipe
Making custard is actually very similar to making pastry cream - find my recipe in here. You will need to temper the egg yolk so the mixture will slightly thicken then get fully baked in the oven.
It’s very important that you heat up the cream just until simmering. You have to wait until it starts simmering so that the cream reaches a high enough temperature to temper the egg yolk. Equally, it’s also important to remove the cream from the stove as soon as it is simmering to avoid too hot temperature which would cook the egg yolks you would end up with scrambled egg. Do not walk away while you cream is over heat
- Heat cream with vanilla and half of the sugar in a saucepan on medium heat and bring it to simmering
- In the meantime whisk egg yolks with remaining sugar
- As cream mixture starts boiling immediately pour it slowly into the egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly
- Pour mixture into your Ramekins
2. How to bake Crème brûlée
I recommend to bake the Crème brûlée on a relative low temp (150 C / 302°F) to avoid burning it. Baking custard is not difficult but a slightly delicate matter and similarly to cheesecakes, water bath is required.
What is water bath?
A water bath is simply a tray of hot water placed in the oven and it is often used to bake cheesecakes or custard like desserts like Crème brûlée. A regular oven typically would produce rubbery texture crème brûlée with cracked surfaces. Using water bath has two important benefits:
1. The water bath adds moisture to the oven and this is important to avoid cracks on top of the desserts while baking and also supports the creamy consistency of the Crème brûlée
2. The water bath also provides a more even baking
While preparing the water bath, make sure the water does not come up higher than half of the Ramekins.
How do I know that my Crème brûlée is baked?
Bake until the edges are set and centers are slightly jiggly. The time depends on the size of your ramekins. In my oven using my ramekins it was about 45 minutes, but I suggest to start checking them at 30 minutes. It might take one or two bakes to find the ideal baking time but it is so yummy that I am sure you won´t mind testing a bit!
3. How to caramelize Crème brûlée
The cruncy caramel layer is what makes Crème brûlée different from as simple vanilla custard. I love the contrast between the silky vanilla cream and crunchy caramel layer! For the caramelizing part you need strong flame that burns the sugar quickly without damaging the custard so I really think you need a Blow torch, however I know some people used the grill function in their oven too.
First of all you need chill the baked custard before caramelizing. It is a must to pop the ramekins into the fridge for 4-5hours and let them completely cool = meaning completely set. Remember, Crème brûlée will only achieve its creamy silky texture once it is set in the fridge.
For the caramelizing part you will need either demerare sugar or light brown sugar, alternatively use granulated sugar. The quantity again depends on the size of your ramekins, I would suggest to apply sugar in a thin layer but most importantly make sure the entire custard is covered with sugar. Then comes the fun part! Grab your Blow torch and start caramelizing the sugar.
Pop the Crème brûlée back to the fridge and let the crunchy caramel layer set quickly.
Please note that the caramel layer will lose its crunchiness over time so make the caramelizing part shortly before serving the dessert.
4. What equipment do I need to make this Crème brûlée recipe
In regards to the Ramekin, you are free to make this Crème brûlée recipe in a more shallow type of ramekin or the one I use for the recipe that is deeper, you just have to pay attention to the baking time.
Regarding the Blow torch, it is really not an expensive piece of baking equipment and you can use it to caramelize meringue on lemon meringue pie, to caramelize marshmallow and I even use it for cooking to caramelize cheese. It is really one of those fun baking equipment you might not need all the time but when the need comes, it is so handy!
Now let´s see the recipe of this Crème brûlée!
Ultimate Crème brûlée recipe
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- Pre-heat oven to 150 C / 302°F
- Prepare the water bath: Fill a baking tray with warm water then place the ramekins into the water. Make sure the water does not come up higher than half of the ramekins
- Heat cream with vanilla and half of the sugar in a saucepan on medium heat and bring it to boil
- In the meantime whisk egg yolks with remaining sugar
- As cream mixture starts simmering, immediately but slowly pour it into the egg yolk mixture and whisk until combined
- Pour the liquid through a sieve and divide the mixture between 4 ramekins, fill them up to ¾. Depending on the size of your ramekin, you might need more or less.
- Bake the custard in the water bath for about 45min. Baking time depens on your oven and size of ramekins
- Once baked, cool them in room temperature then place the ramekins into the fridge for min 4 hours for the custard to set
- Once custard set, springle the top with demerara sugar, approx. one table spoon per ramekin then caramelize the top in a few seconds with a blow torch
- Place the ramekins back to the fridge for a few minutes for the caramel to properly harden on top