Cream, sugar and eggs: the ingredients for crème brulee are so simple and yet many cooks don’t feel confident enough to make it at home. We’ll indulge ourselves at restaurants with the luscious scoops of rich custard, contrasting with the satisfying crunch of crisp caramel, without realizing that it is simple enough to make at home.
Recipes often recommend a mini blowtorch for caramelising the sugar topping, but you can just as easily do it under a hot grill if you don’t have one. These crème brulees can easily be made the night before a dinner party, leaving the caramel topping to be completed just before the meal.
Crème Brulee Recipe
500ml / 2 cups double cream
1 vanilla pod
5 egg yolks
100g / 3 oz sugar
Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.
In a small pan bring the cream to just on simmering point, then take off the heat, put in the vanilla pod, cover the pan and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
Put four 175ml ramekins in a deep roasting tin.
Beat the egg yolks with 50g of the sugar in a mixing bowl with an electric beater, until it turns pale in colour and starts to thicken. Reheat the vanilla infused cream but don’t let it boil.
Pour the hot cream over the beaten egg yolks, stirring as you do so. Remove the vanilla pod.
Pour enough hot water from the tap into the roasting tin, so that it comes 1.5 cm up the side of the ramekins. Fill each ramekin with the hot cream mix. Carefully slide the whole tin into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. The custards should have set at the edges but still be a bit wobbly in the middle. You don’t want them to be too firm.
Take the ramekins out of the tray, cool for a few minutes, then chill in the fridge for at least four hours.
No more than one or two hours before they will be served, finish off the creme brulees. Sprinkle 1 ½ teaspoons of sugar evenly over each ramekin, making sure it completely covers the surface. Either place close under a hot grill for 2-3 minutes, or use a blow torch to caramelize the sugar, by holding it just over the sugar and moving it around and around until done. Give the caramel a few minutes in the fridge to cool and crisp before serving.
Not ready to attempt a crème brulee for yourself yet? Why not indulge yourself with a delicious dessert at Petit Paris restaurant in Nottingham.