Beginner Crème Brulee

College is about to get classy! Not gonna lie, the first time I ordered crème brulee at a restaurant I felt like a true adult. There is something so sophisticated about tap tap tapping the sugar surface until it finally cracks. …Or maybe it’s just the fancy French name. Either way, this delicacy only sounds a lot harder than it actually is. With only the addition of a few new ramekins, you likely already have all the equipment you need!

Let’s be honest, everyone’s favorite part of crème brulee is the deliciously caramelized coating on top. While in professional kitchens, a butane burner is used, you can just as easily get that perfect crunch in an ordinary oven. This recipe is definitely beginner mode, so anyone can do it! Not to mention, this recipe is made for 2, so you can either bake it as written and make a perfect dessert for you and a loved one, or double it for the family!

The side-kick to the sugar coating is the creamy inside. The key to the perfect textured custard is controlling the egg yolks. Egg yolks add density to whatever recipe you’re making, so the more yolks you add, the rubberier it gets. Additionally, to avoid that disgusting rubbery texture, it’s important to slowly warm the eggs by adding the cream gradually. If you add the cream in all at once, you basically have instantly cooked scrambled eggs. Yuck! Now that you know what to avoid, let’s get started!

While the oven is preheating to 300, put the cream, salt, cinnamon stick and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Scald the cream until just about to boil, but do not let it boil. A skin should form on top of the cream and small bubbles should form along the sides of the saucepan.

While the cream is heating, in a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar, just until combined. Add the cream mixture a ladle at a time, stirring continually. Continue gradually adding until all the cream is added.

Strain the custard through a sieve into a large measuring cup. Pour the custard evenly into 2 ramekins, leaving a little room at the top and place them into a cake or sheet pan. Pour boiling water into the pan surrounding the ramekins. The water should come to about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake until the custard is set and no longer runny. The custard should still jiggle a bit in the center when you touch it or shake the pan. It should take about 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and use a spatula to lift ramekins onto and cooling rack. Allow the ramekins to cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator until completely chilled, for between 2 hours to 3 days.

Once completely chilled, remove the ramekins from the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before bruleeing. Spread a thin, even layer of sugar on top of each ramekin. If you have a torch, melt the sugar until it has crusted. Be careful to not torch it too much or too close so that the custard melts or the sugar burns. If you want an extra-thick layer, add another layer of sugar and torch again.

If you don’t have a torch, place the sugared ramekins on a baking sheet and put in the oven 2-3 inches from the broiler. Put on the broiler and watch very closely until the sugar has melted and browned. Again, if you want that extra delicious sugar, add another layer of sugar and put it back in the broiler.

Let the crème brulees sit for 5 minutes before serving and serve right away (for best results, serve with a tiny tea spoon. I know… I’m weird). It may not be a trip to Paris, but it’s likely the closest I can get while stuck on a college campus. Bon appetit!!!

Print Recipe
Beginner Crème Brulee
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Passive Time 2 1/2 hours (chilling)
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Passive Time 2 1/2 hours (chilling)
  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat cream, salt, cinnamon stick and vanilla until scalding. Do not let it reach a boil!
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar. Once cream is heated, whisk the cream into the yolk mixture a ladle at a time. Keep whisking until all cream has been added.
  4. Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a large measuring cup or bowl.
  5. Place 2 shallow ramekins in a cake pan and pour the custard evenly into each one, leaving a bit of space at the top. Pour boiling water into the bottom of the cake pan until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the custard has set, but is still wobbly in the center. You can test this by lightly shaking the cake pan and seeing how much they jiggle. Remove from oven and use tongs to remove ramekins from the water bath and let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes or until they are room temperature.
  7. Cover each ramekin in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 2 hours-3 days.
  8. Once ready to serve, remove the ramekins from the fridge and bring to room temperature for about 30 minutes. Cover the top of each custard with a thin, even layer of sugar. Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar until it creates a crust. For an extra thick layer, let sit, cover with an additional layer of sugar of torch again. *3
  9. Let the sugar set for 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes
  1. If you don’t have cinnamon sticks, substitute 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
  2. Store any leftover egg whites in an airtight container and place in the fridge if you’ll use them within a couple days. If saving them for later, freeze and thaw out when ready to use.
  3. If you don’t have kitchen torch, place the ramekins 2-3 inches from the top of the oven straight out of the fridge and turn on the broiler. Keep an eye on the sugar until it turns a golden brown and melts into a thin layer.
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