Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée

Mmmm... crème brûlée.... mmmm....

Crème brûlée is like the Kim Kardashian of desserts. Sexy, smooth, a little intimidating and appears out of reach to most... but when you look closely at it, just a hard shell on top but really easy to get into .. WHAMMY.

Haha ... creme brulee can be a birthday cake too!
I get it, it crème brûlée looks challenging. It is custard-like-thing... I was intimidated. I never thought I could even attempt it. And vanilla beans? Ya friggan right! Not in this girl's budget.
But..BUT... it was my foodie friend's birthday. And for her, cupcakes just wouldn't do. I needed to take it up a notch. I needed to go where no student ever thought they could go. And I knew her dad had a mini torch so I thought it was a perfect opportunity.

Now I know there are 100,000,000 different crème brûlée recipes out there. So mine isn't anything remotely special. I just wanted to share with you the one that worked for me. Because yes I tried it TWICE before success. Turned out the least complex recipe was the one that worked the best.

So here it is, my most successful therefore favourite crème brûlée recipe, adapted from The Sweet Pea Chef.  No tempering of eggs, no double boilers, no mess and fess.

Also to point out was the fact that I used real vanilla beans against ever cheapo bone in my body. But to overcome this I made sure I used every last bit of the vanilla bean - which involved making vanilla sugar with the left over pods. Just place the left over pods in a jar with sugar, and ... you will have vanilla sugar.

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée
 Time: 1-1 1/4 hours    CPS: $6.75 for 4-5 servings     L of D: PhD Student
  • 2 Cups of Heavy Cream
  • 5 Egg Yolks (save the whites for an omlette tomorrow - you will need it after eating this)
  • 1/2 Cup of Sugar (+2 tbsp for sprinkling on top)
  • 1-2 Vanilla Bean (use extract if we are being budget friendly) 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place ramekins in a big casserole dish and fill the dish with hot water about halfway up the sides of the ramekins

Whisk together egg yolks, and sugar in a bowl until smooth. With a small sharp knife, cut lengthwise down the middle of the vanilla bean, run the knife down the length of the bean scrapping out the actual beans from the inside. Add to egg/sugar mixture. Add cream to mixture and whisk gently, trying not to make too many bubbles.

Pour mixture into the ramekins carefully. I poured the mixture into a measuring cup that had a spout for easier pouring action.

Bake for about 45 mins to an hour. Keep an eye on it them after the 40 minute mark. The custard should be firm around the outside of the dish, but still a bit jiggly in the center. Once you are happy with it, remove from the casserole dish and place on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes. Then transfer them to the fridge for a few hours (or better over night).

Right before serving is where the interesing part happens. This is where you need to actually brulee the creme. Sprinkle sugar over the custard until it covers the surface, the more sugar the thicker the hard top. Use a blow torch (a small one) and to melt the sugar evenly over the surface.

The Sweet Pea Chef suggest doing the brulee-ing under broiler in your oven. I tried this and failed miserably. But obviously it worked for her! And if you don't have a torch, you don't have much options, so give it a try.


  1. Omg was it good! Thanks again for an awesome birthday treat my gourmet friend!!

  2. I want to try this so bad!! Maybe a Feb 14th celebration for myself :)


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