Crème Brulee is the king of all custards for a reason. It's rich flavor, delicate consistency, and crisp caramel topping make it irresistible. If you are looking for an elegant Wedding dessert other than a cake, this is 100% your best option. I love cake just as much as the next person, but I would pass up a slice for this creamy custard any day. You know that sweet, gooey filling between the cake layers? The part that keeps you going back for more? Imagine a whole cup filled with it that is then then topped with a crunchy sugar coating. AMAZING! This custard is so rich and creamy! The crunchy topping adds the perfect amount of texture and blows your palate away. I was recently gifted a cooking torch so I decided to give this delicious treat a try. Amazing, I mean mouth wateringly amazing! The best thing is, it was actually really easy!! If you've always wanted to try Crème Brulee but have been too scared, now is your chance!! Follow this super easy recipe and I promise you won't be disappointed! Don't have a torch? NO PROBLEM!! I will tell you how to get that golden coating without it!
- 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 6 egg yolks
- HOT water
Step 1: Prepare the Cream
Take the vanilla bean and carefully cut it in half and scrape out the pulp.
Add the cream, bean, and pulp to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. It is important to heat the cream slowly so it doesn't scald the milk. It also allows you to draw the flavors out of the bean.
Once the cream has come to a boil, immediately remove it from heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. You want to keep an eye on it once it starts getting warm. Once it boils it will quickly start to bubble. You want to catch it before it boils over or scalds the milk.
NOTE: You do not need to use an actual vanilla bean and can substitute extract. I strongly encourage you to try to use an actual bean. You can find them in the spice section of you local grocer. The intense flavor you get from an actual bean vs. extract is simply incomparable and it truly brings this custard to the next level. I have made quite a few custards in my day with vanilla extract and after making this one with a bean, I won't ever go back! If you do end up using extract, do not add it in this first step. It will be added at the end of the process.
Step 2: Prepare the Eggs
While the cream is cooling, you can make the egg mixture. In a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar for about 3 minutes or until the mixture has lightened in color. You should be able to see a drastic color change. When you start it will be bright like the yolks. When it's ready it will be a milky pastel color.
NOTE: Don't throw out the egg whites (what a waste!!!!) You can save them in a bowl and use them to replace eggs in another recipe (2 whites=1 large egg), make an egg white omelet or even meringue!
Step 3: Mix and Bake the Custard
Using a pair of tongs remove the vanilla bean from the milk.
Slowly add a little cream to the eggs while mixing. Continue adding the cream a little at a time. Its important to not add too much cream at once or you will cook the eggs and get chunks. Once the two are completely combined you can add the vanilla extract if you didn't use a vanilla bean.
If you want to ensure a super creamy texture, drain the mixture through a sieve. In my opinion this step is unnecessary unless you scalded your milk or added the milk into the eggs too quickly. If you properly follow the steps, you will have a creamy, grit free custard.
Pour the mixture into 6-8 ramekins filling almost to the top. Place the ramekins into a pan with high sides and carefully fill the pan with hot water until half way up the sides of the ramekins. Make sure not to splash any water into the custard.
Carefully slide the pans into a pre-heated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 40-45 minutes until the custard is set. It should be mostly set but slightly giggly in the center.
Remove the ramekins from the pan and cool at room temperature for a half hour then refrigerate to set the custard for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
Step 4: Brulee the Creme and Devour!
Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar on top of the custard and spread it evenly over the top, making sure to cover the edges of the custard.
Light the torch and slowly move the flame over the surface to melt and caramelize the sugar. I found it easiest to go around the edges first, then melt the center. Make sure not to keep the flame on one spot too long or you will melt the custard.
If you do not have a torch, place the ramekin under the broiler for 5-10 minutes on High, rotating as necessary. Make sure to keep an eye on it, it's very easy to burn stuff rather quickly under a broiler.
Once the sugar is caramelized let them sit for 2-5 minutes to allow the sugar to harden. Serve immediately and ENJOY!
NOTE: Make sure to brulee right before serving. The sugar will soften if you brulee then place them back into the refrigerator again for a while.