Following these twelve hacks for making the perfect creme brulee will help you achieve your goal of a perfect dessert every single time. You may think that making creme brulee is difficult, but it’s actually pretty simple.
Creme brulee is a dessert consisting of a layer of custard topped with sugar that you have caramelized. This dessert can be served plain (my preference) or with whipped cream or ice cream on top, and it is typically eaten with a spoon. All you need are the four ingredients, an ovenproof dish, and some time to let it set in the refrigerator! Before we get started, I’d like to give you some background on creme brulee.
What is Creme Brulee Mostly Made of?
The basic ingredients of creme brulee are:
- heavy cream
- granulated sugar
- vanilla flavoring.
Although, there can be a lot of difference between one cook’s creme brulee and another cook’s creme brulee. Or, even one batch of creme brulee and the next batch. Some of those differences can be intentional, for instance, if you decide to use different flavorings.
How to Make Crème Brûlée
Making creme brulee sounds easy, because there are only four basic ingredients in the basic recipe. But, there are a few tricks to getting the outcome you’re looking for. Not sure what the finished product should be? Well, here’s the skinny on creme brulee. The mouthfeel is king. The dish should be cold custard that is subtle, and not too sweet. It should be served while the melted, golden-brown sugar topping is still warm. The thin layer of sugar should crack like sugar glass when tapped with a spoon, and it should crunch between your teeth.
Get ready to make the creme brulee by preheating your oven to 325°F. Then put the heavy cream in a saucepan, and bring it to a simmer over medium heat on your stovetop. Immediately remove the cream from heat and add the vanilla. In a separate bowl, separate the eggs, and whisk only the yolks (using an electric mixer is not necessary) until they are mixed well. (You can save the leftover egg whites to make an omelet or meringue for a pie.) Add the sugar and vanilla, and whisk together. Slowly add about 1/2 cup of the hot cream to the egg and sugar mixture while whisking. Slowly add the remaining cream to the egg mixture, while continuing to whisk.
Pour equal amounts of the mixture into each of your ramekins. Place the ramekins on a baking dish, and slide the baking dish into your preheated oven. Add boiling water to the baking dish. Then bake for about 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer registers 170°F. Remove the baking pan and ramekins from the oven, and remove the ramekins from the baking pan. Place the ramekins on a cooling rack, and cool to room temperature, then chill for about 2 hours in the fridge.
Prior to serving your spectacular dessert (the one that everyone is going to talk about for ages), sprinkle about a teaspoon of sugar on top of each custard, and torch.
What Does Creme Brulee Taste Like?
Creme brulee is a very light custard with a not-too-sweet taste, even though it is very rich. The torched sugar on top results in a taste of caramel. The two flavors together, along with the contrasting textures make for a decadent delight.
What is Special About Creme Brulee?
Creme brulee is special mainly because it is a delicious, rich, flavorful dessert. Additionally, it is served with the custard cold, and the topping still warm from the torching. I also believe it is special because of the dessert’s name. You know, all French and everything. Just saying the words makes me want to try the dessert. And the presentation is fabulous!
What Size Ramekin Should I Use to Make Creme Brulee?
Creme Brulee is traditionally prepared in a 4-ounce ramekin. However, 6-ounce ramekins are also an excellent choice. Four 6-ounce ramekins will fit well in a 9 x 13 baking pan. You should stick with shallow ramekins, to make sure the dessert is enjoyed with a bit of custard and crunchy sugar topping in each bite.
Is Creme Brulee Gluten Free?
Creme Brulee is gluten free, as long as you use gluten free ingredients. Eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract are gluten free ingredients. However, if you add other ingredients, you will want to check to make sure they are gluten free.
Are Flan and Creme Brulee the Same Thing?
Creme Brulee and flan are both baked custards. The difference is that the creme brulee is baked until it is just a little jiggly. Flan is baked until it is soft and still jiggly. The topping on the creme brulee is torched sugar, which gives the sugar a caramel flavor. The flan is baked with caramel on the sides of the ramekin, then it is turned upside down for presentation.
Is Creme Brulee a Pudding?
Creme Brulee is a baked custard, and pudding is typically cooked in a double boiler on the stovetop. Creme brulee will be just a little jiggly when finished, and pudding will be less stiff.
Why is My Creme Brulee Like Pudding?
Creme brulee that is undercooked may have more of a pudding-like texture. It is still edible, just different. Next time you make creme brulee, cook it a little longer, and use an instant read thermometer to make sure the custard has reached the proper temperature of 170°F.
What is the Difference Between Creme Brulee and Custard?
Creme brulee is a custard. The difference is that the creme brulee is topped with sugar that is torched and presents that caramel flavor.
How do You Know if Creme Brulee is Overcooked?
Creme brulee can be overcooked when the cream is combined with the egg and sugar mixture, or when it is baked in the oven. If the cream is too hot or added too quickly to the egg and sugar mixture, the eggs can actually cook like scrambled eggs. This will cause the eggs to separate, leaving lumps of egg protein and some watery egg substance.
If the creme brulee is overcooked in the oven, the edges will be too stiff, and no longer custard-like. If you’re custard is overcooked at either of the stages, it is best to just discard the resulting mixture and start over.
Does Creme Brulee Taste Good?
Creme brulee DOES taste good! In fact, I think it tastes great! The creamy custard has a not-too-sweet taste and is combined with the caramelized sugar on top. These two flavors compliment one another and combine for a unique taste experience.
What Does Creme Brulee Literally Mean?
Creme Brulee literally means burnt cream. Although, this is somewhat of a misnomer, because the cream is not burned, only the sugar crust on top.
Why is It Called Creme Brulee?
Creme brulee is so named because it is made of cream (creme), and the sugar topping is burned (brulee). When taken literally, the name is translated to burned cream. Although, the cream is not burned, only the sugar on top of the custard.
Does Creme Brulee Taste Like Custard?
Yes, creme brulee does taste like custard, because that is what creme brulee is. The difference between creme brulee and plain custard is the addition of caramelized sugar on top of the creme brulee. Without the burned (caramelized) sugar, the creme brulee is only a custard.
What is the Texture of Creme Brulee?
The texture of creme brulee is one of the amazing attractions to the delicious dish. The custard is soft and creamy with a silky feeling in the mouth. The caramelized (burned or torched) sugar layer on top of the custard is hard and crunches between your teeth. The combination of these two textures is wonderful.
What Does Creme Brulee Translate to in English?
Creme brulee translates to burned cream in English. The dish is made of cream, although the cream is not burned. The sugar that is sprinkled on top of the dish is caramelized, or burned.
What is the Flavoring of Creme Brulee?
The flavoring used in plain creme brulee is vanilla. Other flavors can also be introduced. Here are just a few optional flavors:
- cafe au lait
- ferrero rocher
- Irish coffee
- passion fruit
- salted caramel
How do You get the Creme Brulee Crunchy Top?
The crunchy top of creme brulee is caramelized sugar. After the custard is baked and chilled, the top of the custard is sprinkled with a thin layer of sugar. The sugar is heated with a torch until golden brown. The result is a crunchy layer of sugar that has the taste of caramel. This crunchy top is cracked with a spoon.
Can You Broil the Top of Creme Brulee?
Yes, the layer of sugar on top of the custard can be browned in your oven’s broiler. However, this is not the preferred method. If you DO decide to use the broiler, preheat the broiler for about 15 minutes before setting the custards under it. Watch carefully, and remove the creme brulee as soon as the sugar is golden brown.
12 Hacks to Make the Perfect Creme Brulee
- Make sure you are using high quality ingredients. Eggs should be as fresh as possible. Vanilla flavoring can be accomplished with vanilla bean, vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract.
- Whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until they are mixed well.
- Pour the cream into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat to scald the cream. Immediately remove from heat and add the vanilla flavoring.
- Add a small amount (about 1/4) of the hot cream to the egg and sugar mixture. This will temper the eggs to prevent them from cooking to quickly.
- After adding all the cream to the egg and sugar mixture, strain the mixture, using a fine mesh strainer or sieve. This will remove any egg lumps that may have formed.
- Strain the mixture into a glass measuring cup. This will make it easier to pour the custard mixture into the ramekins.
- Pour equal amounts of the custard into the ramekins. This will help the custards to bake evenly.
- If air bubbles or foam forms on top of the custard as it is poured into the ramekins, it should be removed. You can use the corner of a paper towel to carefully pop the bubbles.
- Place the filled ramekins in the center of your oven. This will also help to bake the custards evenly.
- Bake in a water bath by filling the baking pan with boiling hot water. After about 15 minutes, rotate the baking pan half way around. Remove the custard from the oven when it is set around the edges. If you gently tap the ramekin, it should be a tiny bit jiggly in the center. The edges should be set.
- Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, then move to the fridge to chill for about 4 hours.
- Don’t burn the caramelized sugar. Sprinkle a thin, even layer of granulated sugar on top of the custard (covering the entire surface area) and heat with a kitchen torch, just until it is golden brown. Repeat with a second layer of sugar.
For me, the preparation of creme brulee is fun and challenging. Mainly because I always want it to turn out perfectly, with the custard just right (served cold), and the sugar crust warm and crunchy. The 4-ounce ramekin has just the right amount of custard and crust. This dessert is delicious and elegant enough for any dinner party or family gathering. Let us know how your experience goes!