Cracking the top layer of shiny caramel with a spoon and digging into soft vanilla cream, that’s the dream. Crème brûlée is probably the most popular French dessert you can get. And one you can get in a wide range of different qualities. unfortunately I kind of had them all. I am not saying that some of them weren’t made by me. This caramelized vanilla cream dessert seems to be so simple yet a bit tricky. I struggled some weeks before I finally had the perfect recipe ready to share. But here it is and I hope you will be delighted trying it.
~ 10 hours (90 minutes preparation, cooling over night)
- 500ml Cream
- 250g Double Cream / Crème Double
- 6 Egg Yolks
- 140g Sugar
- 1 Vanilla Pod
- Pinch of Salt
- Some sugar for caramelization
- large Bowl
- Water Kettle
- Baking tray with higher edges
- Crème Brûlée moulds (heat proof and all with the same height)
- Ladle (to fill liquid into the moulds)
- Kitchen blowtorch
Mise en Place (to do before cooking):
- Weigh & measure ingredients
- Separate egg yolks
- Place moulds side by side on the baking tray
- Preheat oven to 130°C / 265°F
How to Make Crème Brûlée
- Pour the cream into the bowl and add sugar and double cream.
- Stir well until the double cream and sugar dissolved completely.
- Cut the vanilla pod open lengthwise and remove the seeds with the back of the blade of your knife. Put the seeds into your cream mixture.
- Add the egg yolks into the cream together with a pinch of salt. Mix thoroughly until the vanilla seeds spread out evenly in the mixture.
- Fill the vanilla cream mixture with a ladle into your crème brûlée moulds until almost completely full. Give the mixture a little stir before you take out a ladle, because the vanilla seeds sink to the ground and you want some in each mould and not all seeds in the last one.
- Bring water in your water kettle to a boil. Carefully pour the hot water onto the baking tray without spilling it into the filled moulds. The moulds should stand half way in the hot water. That’s why it is important that all moulds have the same height.
- Put the baking tray into the oven and let your crème brûlée bake for 70 minutes.
- Take out the baking tray when the timer is finished and put it on a heat proof surface (wooden boards or your stove will do the job). Let it cool down for 10 Minutes and then take the moulds out of the water. The crème brûlée might still be liquidish, but don’t worry, that’s normal. Let them cool until they reach room temperature or slightly above. The moulds should dry automatically – if not, make them dry.
- Store the moulds in the fridge over night or at least 5 hours
- Take your crème brûlée out of the fridge. It should be firm now. Pour some sugar on me… just kidding ;). On top of the crème brûlée of course. The layer should not be too thin and not too thick. The right thickness is, when you just don’t see the yellow surface anymore. That’s about 1 or 1,5mm.
- Now the fun part! Light up your kitchen blowtorch and flambé the sugar with slow circular motion. Don’t burn the sugar! If it turns black you had the flame too long in the same spot. This needs some practice. But you made a whole tray of moulds, right ;)?
Useful Hints for Making Crème Brûlée
There are some factors that have to be regarded to make it a really delightful food experience. And with factors I mean indicators that tell you immediately whether you have a good crème brûlée or the opposite. Be sure to take them into account when making your crème brûlée at home:
- The first and most important is the texture. A good crème brûlée is always creamy and dense. That’s why it comes in small portions. You couldn’t eat plenty of it at once due to its high amount of fat. A crème brûlée gets grainy when it is either baked on a too high temperature or the relation of water to fat is too high. Rather go 10° lower than 5° too high with the temperature. And let’s be honest: this is not a dessert to lose weight. Don’t try to make it a diet version. This will never be as good as the original.
- The next indicator is the colour. If you didn’t order a vegan crème brûlée, the colour should always be some kind of yellowish as it is originally made with a fair amount of egg yolks. If you get a whitish crème brûlée, it is probably made with some kind of starch or other gelifying ingredients. That wouldn’t necessarily mean that it is bad, but it won’t be an original. And you need plenty of egg yolks to keep the mixture of fats and liquids stable. The reason for that is, that egg yolks contain lecithin which is a natural emulsifier.
- The use of natural vanilla is another crucial indicator for good quality. Of course a vanilla pod is the best you could do, but bourbon vanilla sugar with original vanilla will do the job as good. You recognize the usage of natural vanilla if you see the tiny black seeds of the vanilla pod.
- Of course the caramel layer on top. The most significant feature of a crème brûlée. And a quite tricky one for the fact that it is just molten sugar. The caramel layer should not be too thick because it would be hard to crack. And biting on chunks of sugar isn’t very pleasing too. And the sugar has to caramelize completely, otherwise you will have a grainy mouthfeel and it will not crack as beautifully. Achieving the right thickness and having a perfect caramelization brings the next challenge: Do not burn the caramel! If you keep your kitchen blowtorch in one place for too long, the caramel will burn and become really bitter. Golden brown is the colour you want to get and it needs a little practice.