Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How to Make Crème Brulée

Crème brulée, meaning "burnt cream," is a delicacy enjoyed by many. It has a sweet, creamy taste and a crunchy and smooth texture, all in the same bite. Fortunately, it is simple to make and will impress almost any guest.


  • 17 fl oz (500 ml) double cream
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 4 1⁄3 oz (120 g or 1/2 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 6 tsp caster sugar (set aside for sprinkling)
  • 6 egg yolks


  • Prepare the vanilla pod. Using the knife, slice down the middle of the pod and split it open . Scrape out the pulp onto the knife point and put it into the saucepan. Add the pod as well and pour in the cream.
  • Heat the cream. Put the pan over medium heat and allow to warm, but not boil. (It is suggested that you use 4 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract for faster preparation.)
  • Preheat the oven to 140ºC (250ºF).
  • Place the egg yolks in a large bowl, gradually add the sugar and whisk well until the mixture turns pale in colour. Whisk while slowly pouring in the warm cream. If you stir the cream in too quickly, the eggs may cook. Once combined, set aside.
  • Strain the mixture through the sieve and into the jug.
  • Place the six ramekins into the roasting tin and fill each one with the cream mixture.
  • Pour enough boiling water into the tray to reach half way up the ramekins. This set-up is known as a bain marie.
  • Place the filled ramekins into the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. When ready, they'll be set on the edges but "jiggly" at the center.
  • Remove the crèmes brûlées from the oven when baked, and, taking great care as the ramekins will be very hot, transfer them out of the bain marie and onto a cooling rack. Allow them to cool to room temperature.
  • Refrigerate them for several hours, covered in plastic wrap.
  • Sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar over each crème brûlée.
  • Quickly caramelize the top with the blow torch or a kitchen butane torch. Don't caramelize it for more than roughly 8-10 seconds. If you over-heat it, the sugar will turn black.
  • Refrigerate for another 45 minutes before serving. Letting them refrigerate for any longer may allow the sugar to dissolve back into the custard. This step is optional, as some prefer to caramelize the sugar immediately before serving.


Here's a short video on how to make Crème Brulée


  • You can add some cream to the top before serving, but this is optional.
  • If you don't have a blow torch or anything like it handy, an alternative is to caramelize the sugar in a pot and then pour it over the custard, making a thicker layer than usual.
  • Another way to caramelize the sugar on top is to place the ramekins under a very hot and well-warmed-up broiler. The closer you can get the ramekins to the broiler, the quicker the top will crisp up and the cooler the custard will be after the top is crispy.
  • Raw or "Turbinado" sugar is best for the top.
  • Pull it from the oven a few minutes before it is actually done as it will continue cooking out of the oven.
  • Overcooked crème brulée turns into sweet scrambled eggs so be sure not to overcook it.
  • You can also put slices of ginger and lemon verbena into the cream when scalding it in order to give the creme brulee a slight twist.


  • Always be careful when using a stove or an oven.
  • It is not advisable to let a child use a blow torch. If they do, always supervise them.
  • The water bath is dangerously hot. Use caution when pouring or removing the desserts.
  • There is a technique to making good crème brulée. You should practice making it a few times in the same oven before making it for a special event.

Things You'll Need

  • Chopping board
  • Saucepan
  • Bowl
  • Whisk
  • Sieve
  • Jug
  • 6 ramekins
  • Roasting tin
  • Blow torch or kitchen butane torch
  • Spatula
  • Knife

Sources and Citations

  •, a wiki how-to manual.
  • Link to video showing how to make crème brulée. Source of the images and instructions used in the article. Used with permission.