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Mastering Crème Brûlée: The Ultimate Recipe and Guide

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

Hello, food lover! Excited about Crème Brûlée? Serve a dessert that matches top restaurants, right at home. With our guide, you'll easily make this classic burnt cream. Ready to try this French treat? Let's start cooking!

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Freshly baked Crème Brûlée in a ceramic ramekin with caramelized sugar top
Experience the rich and decadent taste of this culinary delight!

The Timeless Tale of Crème Brûlée: A Dessert's Journey Through History

Crème Brûlée Origin:

France's Claim: The French Connection and its Culinary Legacy: Often celebrated as a quintessential French dessert, Crème Brûlée, translating to "burnt cream," finds its roots in 17th-century French cookbooks. This perfect blend of creamy custard crowned with a crisp caramelized sugar layer has long been a staple in French homes and patisseries.

England's Stake: The English Custard and its Resemblance:

England boasts its own rendition named "burnt cream" or Trinity cream. This treat, popularized at Trinity College, Cambridge, mirrors its French counterpart but typically omits the crunchy caramel topping, emphasizing the velvety custard instead.

Spain's Contribution: Catalonian Cream and its Distinct Flair:

Spain enters the creamy contest with Crema Catalana. Hailing from Catalonia, this dessert, traditionally savoured on Saint Joseph's Day, is infused with citrus zest and cinnamon, offering a distinctive flavour twist.

Evolution: How Crème Brûlée Conquered Palates Worldwide

From Simple Beginnings: The Basic Ingredients and Early Recipes

At its essence, Crème Brûlée is a harmonious blend of cream, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla. Over the years, culinary enthusiasts have played with these core ingredients, spawning a myriad of delightful variations.

Global Adaptations: How Different Cultures Put Their Spin on It

From Asia's matcha-infused versions to America's autumnal pumpkin spice Crème Brûlée, this classic has been reimagined globally, mirroring the diverse tastes and traditions of each locale.

The Modern Touch: Molecular Gastronomy and Beyond

With modern culinary innovations, Crème Brûlée has transcended its traditional ramekin confines. Contemporary chefs craft foams, spheres, and even Crème Brûlée ice creams, redefining this age-old dessert.

Preparation Details:

Preparation time: 10min

Baking time: 35-40 minutes.

Cooling time: 1h 10min

This recipe makes: 6 portions

Ingredients for Crème Brûlée

  • 420 ml (14.8oz) of double cream

  • 100ml (3.5oz) of milk (full fat works best)

  • 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste

  • 5 medium egg yolks

  • 70g (2.45oz) of caster sugar (plus extra for topping)

Creme brulee tools list:

How to make Crème Brûlée

1. Preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F) with the fan setting.

2. Arrange six 100ml ramekins in a deep baking dish, ensuring there is enough space to cover the dish with foil without touching the tops of the ramekins.

3. In a small saucepan, combine double cream and milk, and whisk in 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste.

4. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until well combined.

5. Place the saucepan with the cream mixture over medium heat and bring to 80°C (176°F). As soon as you see bubbles form, remove the pan from heat (but do not let it boil). Transfer the mixture to a jug to prevent further heating (You can heat up only a little bit but this will extend the cooking time)

6. Gradually pour the hot cream mixture into the beaten egg yolk mixture, stirring continuously to prevent scrambling.

7. Use a large spoon to scoop any foam from the surface of the liquid and discard. Return the mixture to a jug.

8. Fill the baking dish with enough hot tap water to reach about 3/4 of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully pour the mixture into the ramekins.

9. Cover the dish with foil, leaving a small gap on both sides to allow air circulation.

Crème Brûlée being baked in a Bain-marie setup, covered with foil for even cooking.
Baking Crème Brûlée using the Bain-marie method.

10. Bake the ramekins in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the mixture is set but still jiggles like jelly. Be careful not to overcook or undercook the mixture.

11. Using oven gloves, remove the ramekins from the baking dish and transfer to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes. Then, place in the refrigerator to chill completely for at least 1 hour, or overnight.

12. Before serving, sprinkle 1.5 tsp of caster sugar over each ramekin and spread evenly using the back of a spoon.

13. Using a blow torch, caramelize the sugar by holding the flame just above the sugar and moving it continuously until a caramelized layer forms.

Freshly caramelized Crème Brûlée dessert with golden sugar crust
Ready to reveal the creamy delight beneath!

From the Chef

Discover a world of delectable recipes and culinary tips directly from my kitchen. Subscribe to my recipe website for the latest mouth-watering creations. For exclusive behind-the-scenes peeks, follow my Instagram page and embark on a culinary journey with me. Your feedback is invaluable—please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Tips for preparation for Best Crème Brûlée Recipe:

  • Caramelizing Without a Torch: If you're without a blow torch, fret not! Simply use your oven's broiler setting to achieve that golden caramelized sugar top. Place the ramekins on a baking tray and monitor them closely to prevent over-browning. It's a good practice to keep the oven door slightly ajar during this process.

  • Setting the Egg Yolks: The ideal temperature for setting egg yolks in Crème Brûlée is between 62-65°C (144-149°F)

  • Storage: You can refrigerate Crème Brûlée for up to 5 days. However, ensure it's covered with cling film to avoid absorbing any unwanted fridge odours.

  • Choosing Eggs: For a richer taste, opt for organic eggs. They often offer a more robust flavour compared to conventional eggs.

  • Flavour Infusion: Elevate your Crème Brûlée by infusing the cream with aromatic herbs like thyme or lavender. Add a few sprigs to the cream, allowing it to steep for about 30 minutes. Remove the herbs before continuing with the recipe, and you'll be rewarded with a subtly enhanced flavour profile in your dessert. Enjoy!

FAQ for Crème Brûlée:

  • What does Crème Brûlée taste like? Crème Brûlée boasts a rich and velvety custard base with a hint of vanilla, complemented by a contrasting top layer of crisp, caramelized sugar. Its taste is a harmonious blend of sweetness and creaminess, with the caramelized top adding a slight bitterness and crunch, making every bite a delightful play of textures and flavours.

  • Is Crème Brûlée gluten free? Yes, traditional Crème Brûlée is gluten-free as its main ingredients are cream, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla. However, always check recipes or labels for any added ingredients or potential cross-contamination if you need to ensure it's strictly gluten-free.

  • What are Crème Brûlée flavours? Crème Brûlée traditionally features a vanilla-flavoured custard base, but variations include chocolate, coffee, citrus, lavender, and even matcha, among others.

  • What is the best ramekin for Creme Brulee? The best ramekin for Crème Brûlée is typically a shallow, round, oven-safe ceramic or porcelain dish with a diameter of 4 to 5 inches, allowing for even cooking and the perfect caramelized sugar-to-custard ratio.

  • How to tell when creme brulee is done? You can tell Crème Brûlée is done when the edges are set, but the centre still has a slight jiggle to it when gently shaken; it should not be liquidly but should resemble a soft-set custard. Overbaking can lead to a curdled texture, so it's essential to monitor closely during the final minutes of baking.

  • Crème Brûlée vs flan? Crème Brûlée is a French dessert with a creamy custard base and a hard caramelized sugar top, while flan, often referred to as caramel custard, is a smooth custard with a soft caramel topping, popular in many countries including Spain and Mexico.

Check out my other Dessert Recipes:

Biscoff Cheesecake - Biscoff Cheesecake is a heavenly dessert that combines the creamy and rich flavours of cheesecake with the spiced caramel taste of Biscoff cookies, resulting in a mouth-watering treat that is sure to impress anyone who tries it.

Polish Apple Pancakes - A super simple recipe for delicious Polish Apple Pancakes (Racuchy z Jabłkami). I will show you how to quickly and easily prepare my favourite snack from childhood.

Chocolate Brownie - Everyone loves chocolate, and for good reason – it's a mood-lifter that adds a touch of love and happiness to any home! So why not indulge in a delectable chocolate treat today? Just remember, everything in moderation, so go ahead and savor the sweetness!

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Aug 24, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Absolutely divine! I've tried many Crème Brûlée recipes over the years, but this one truly stands out. The texture was silky smooth and the caramelized top cracked perfectly with every spoonful. It felt like a gourmet treat right at home. Thank you for sharing this gem of a recipe!

Łukasz Babral
Łukasz Babral
Aug 24, 2023
Replying to

Thank you so much for your kind words! I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed the Crème Brûlée and that it lived up to your expectations. Happy cooking and enjoy every bite!


Feb 14, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I made this and it was amazing, very good for weekend party.

Łukasz Babral
Łukasz Babral
Aug 24, 2023
Replying to

Thank you so much for the lovely feedback! I'm thrilled to hear that the Crème Brûlée was a hit at your weekend party. It's always a pleasure to know that the recipe brought joy to others. Cheers to many more delicious gatherings!

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