Creme Brulee is one of the two desserts I will always order at a restaurant. Not all have lived up to the hype, but this one I make at home is always SO delicious! As soon as I learned how easy it is to make I bought ramekins, and eventually a cooking torch. It is possible to caramelize the top without a torch! Do not let the lack of torch slow you down!
A Creme Brulee Kit or Ramekins or a Cooking torch with butane would make a great gift for Valentine’s Day, for a housewarming or wedding. I bought these things for myself as a Valentine’s gift years ago. It’s a gift that keeps on giving!
We make Creme Brulee for a special birthday treat, an Easter dessert buffet, Valentine’s Day and any other special occasion.
This recipe makes about 8 – 6 oz. ramekins. Make sure you have a large casserole dish that they all sit flat in so they can bake evenly in a water bath. If a large dish isn’t available, you can use two smaller dishes or half the recipe.
Next separate 10 eggs. You only need the yolks. You can save the whites for an omelet or angel food cake or get rid of them.
Combine eggs, white sugar and vanilla extract. Or you can skip the extract and scrape out a single vanilla bean to add instead.
Next heat the half & half on the stove top on medium, just till it is hot enough to coat a metal spoon. DO NOT let it come to a simmer or boil. Just a little steamy. Take off the heat.
Temper the eggs. Before adding the eggs to the heated half & half the egg temperature needs to be raised slowly the eggs do not scramble and cook. That would ruin the texture of the custard. While whisking the eggs slowly pour about 1/3 cup of the hot liquid into the eggs.
Then slowly pour the egg mixture into the hot half & half while whisking. Make sure the saucepan is OFF the heat!
Now you can ladle the hot liquid into the ramekins. I use a 1/2 cup measuring cup.
Now pour hot water into the dish around the ramekins to make a hot water bath for them to sit in. The water should come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. You can pour the water in after it is in the oven if that will make it easier to transport without sloshing.
Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes. Check for doneness by how the custard moves when lightly shifted. If the custard moves like liquid, it is not done. If it barely moves, more like Jello, it is done. Keep baking for 5 minutes at a time, and rechecking for doneness, until done.
Carefully remove the water bath from the oven and use a slotted metal server to lift each ramekin onto a cooling rack.
I like to set the cooling rack into a cookie sheet, so it is easy to transport. After they cool for about a 1/2 hour set them in the refrigerator to chill for 4+ hours. I like to chill them over night.
For torch caramelizing – Right before serving spread evenly 1 teaspoon of sugar over the top of a custard. Do this one at a time. It is hard to caramelize if the sugar sits and gets too wet. Turn the flame on the torch on medium. Not too high or too low. Slowly move the flame in a circular motion starting on the outside, and moving into the center, around and around till it is all evenly caramelized.
For Stove-Top caramelizing – Spread 3-4 Tablespoons of sugar evenly over the bottom of a non-stick frying pan. Turn on Medium-high heat.
DO NOT stir! Let it sit till all the sugar liquifies and caramelizes. Then quickly move to the chilled custards and pour a little of the caramel onto one ramekin at a time, while tilting and turning to get the caramel to move and evenly cover the top.
Let the caramel cool and harden before serving. Serve with fresh berries for an extra burst of flavor. Have fun cracking through the caramel with the edge of your spoon, scoop down in the custard, and enjoy every bite!
- 7-8 Ramekins
- Cooking torch with butane optional
- 10 egg yolks dispose the whites, or save for another recipe
- 4 cups half & half 1 quart
- ⅔ cup white sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, sliced open and scraped out
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For caramel top
- ½ cup white sugar
- Preheat oven to 325°. Combine the 10 egg yolks with the sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl.
- In a saucepan heat the quart of half & half over medium hi heat. DO NOT bring to a simmer. Heat it till it just starts to steam and coats a metal spoon. Turn off the heat.
- Temper the egg mixture. Slowly pour about a ½ cup of the hot liquid into the eggs, as you quickly whisk. This heats the eggs slowly so they do not cook and curdle. We don't want scrambled eggs in our custard.
- After the eggs are tempered slowly pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the half & half as you quickly whisk the liquid.
- Measure the hot liquid into ramekins or small baking dishes to a ¼ inch from the top. Place the filled ramekins in a large casserole baking dish.
- Bake in a water bath by pouring hot water into the casserole dish to fill the empty space around the ramekins.
- Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes. Test for doneness by carefully moving the dish side to side. The tops of the custard should move a tiny bit like Jello. NOT move like liquid. If it moves to much cook for another 5 minutes. Test and keep cooking in 5-minute increments till done.
- Immediately remove custards from the water bath by lifting out with a metal server, and place on a cooling rack. Place the cooling rack into a cooking sheet, and chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours to overnight.
- Right before serving set all the custards out on the counter, and one at a time evenly spread 1-2 teaspoons of white sugar. Then use a butane cooking torch to move around the outer edge in a circular motion, moving into the center, and back out to the edge till the sugar is all camelized. Make sure the gas flow on the torch is set in the middle. You don't want the flame too high or too low.
- ***If you do not have a torch that's OK! In a 6-inch frying pan spread out an even layer of white sugar. DO NOT STIR! Let it sit on medium high heat till all the sugar melts and turns dark brown. Immediately drizzle a little bit on top of one custard at a time. As you drizzle, slowly tip and turn the custard to move the caramel slowly around to coat the top in a thin crust. You may need to melt and carmelize more sugar a few times to get all the custards topped.