Classic Crème Brûlée Recipe

Classic Crème Brûlée Recipe – Search no more…this is THE perfect recipe for the timeless classic. It also happens to be the simplest to make! It’s decadently rich and smooth, infused with fragrant vanilla beans and topped with a brittle, paper-thin sheet of caramelized sugar.

Servings: 6


2 cups (473ml) heavy whipping cream, cold (divided)
1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
A pinch of table salt
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise (2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or extract may be substituted)
6 large egg yolks (108 grams)
6 to 9 teaspoons (25 to 37 grams) turbinado or demerara sugar (granulated sugar may be substituted)


Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat the oven to 300F/ 150C.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of the cream, granulated sugar, and salt. Using a paring knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and submerge both seeds and pod in the cream. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar completely. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let steep for 15 minutes to infuse with the vanilla bean flavor. If using vanilla extract instead of beans, skip the steeping and add the extract directly to the egg yolks.

Meanwhile, place a kitchen towel in the bottom of a large baking dish or roasting pan and arrange six (4 to 5oz) ramekins or shallow fluted dishes on the towel. Bring a kettle of water to a boil.

After the cream has steeped, stir in the remaining 1 cup of cream to cool down the mixture. Whisk yolks in a large bowl until broken up and combined. Slowly add in, while constantly whisking, the cream mixture into the yolks until evenly colored and thoroughly combined. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large liquid measuring cup with a spout or a pitcher or medium bowl; discard solids in the strainer. Pour or ladle mixture evenly into ramekins or fluted dishes. Pop any air bubbles that might have surfaced to the top, with a toothpick.

Carefully place the baking dish with the ramekins/dishes on the oven rack; gently pour boiling water into the dish, taking care not to splash water into ramekins, until water reaches two-thirds height of ramekins. Bake until the centers of the custards are barely set and jiggles slightly when the dish is shaken. A food thermometer inserted in center should register between 170F to 175F (77C to 80C), 25 to 30 minutes for shallow fluted dishes like the ones pictured above or 30 to 35 minutes for deep ramekins. Over-baking can cause the custard to curdle, so take care not to leave it in the oven longer than it should. Begin checking temperature about 5 minutes before recommended time.

Remove ramekins/dishes from the water-bath and transfer to a wire rack. A great way to transfer them without burning your fingers, is to use tongs tied with rubber bands. The rubber bands grips really well to the ramekins without slipping. Cool custards to room temperature, about 2 hours. Place ramekins/dishes on a rimmed baking sheet or pan, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or up to 4 days.

About one hour before serving, uncover ramekins/dishes. If condensation has collected on the surface of the custards, gently blot the tops dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle each custard surface with about 1 teaspoon turbinado or demerara sugar (1 1/2 teaspoons for shallow fluted dishes); then shake and tilt the ramekin/dish to spread the sugar in an even layer. Pour out any excess sugar and wipe away from the inside rim of the ramekin/dish. Ignite torch and caramelize sugar. Sweep the flame from the perimeter of the custard toward the middle, keeping the flame about 2 inches above the ramekin. The sugar is properly caramelized when it’s bubbling and deep golden brown. If you don’t have a torch, you can use a super hot spoon to caramelize the sugar. Simply, heat a metal spoon (that you don’t care about) over the stove-top fire until scorching hot, then slide the spoon over the sugar to caramelize. Once the spoon cools, you’ll need to wash and scrub it thoroughly removing any stuck caramel bits, before reheating.

Refrigerate ramekins/dishes, uncovered, to re-chill, 30 to 45 minutes (but no longer or the caramelized topping will start melting); serve right away.


To make ahead! The custards can be prepared through step 6, covered tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerated for up to 4 days. Caramelize topping only when ready to serve.

Feel free to double this recipe to make 12 servings.

For a family-style variation, double the recipe and pour custard in a 1 1/2-quart casserole or 11X7-inch baking dish instead of individual ramekins. Bake inside a larger baking dish or roasting pan filled with boiling water for 40 to 50 minutes.


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