Saturday, 22 January 2011

Double dessert part 1 - Crème Brûlée

This recipe only uses egg yolks so you'll be left with 4 (or 8 if you double the mixture like I did) egg whites. So I made some meringues with the left over whites. Make sure you keep them and look at my next post - double dessert part 2 for how to use them for another pudding - waste not, want not!

Crème Brûlée is also known as 'burnt cream', a rich vanilla flavoured custard base topped with a layer of crunchy, hard sugar top. It's something I've always loved as a pudding at restaurants but never thought about making at home before. But then I was looking through one of my Mum's French cookbooks and was inspired by a recipe for it. I love the sound as you tap the sugar crust with a spoon and then piercing through to the soft custard. 
The original french recipe doesn't put the custard in the oven so it would be very runny, so I combined it with a recipe that did use a bain marie and it seemed to set it well. 
- The recipe that I used said to use demerara sugar but this was a disaster, it didn't caramelise or go hard. So after about an hour, I scraped this off and put caster sugar on and used a hotter flame until it really bubbled and sure enough, you could tap the top :D a perfect Crème Brûlée! 
- Also, if you have a real vanilla pod, I'd recommend it as the extract just wasn't strong enough.
Ingredients - (serves 4)
600ml single cream
4 large egg yolks
2 level teaspoons cornflour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or the seeds of a vanilla pod.
2-3 tablespoons caster sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 150c. Place the cream in a small heavy-based pan and cook over a low heat until warm, don't let it boil though.
2. Have a pan of simmering water ready. In a large bowl place the egg yolks and add the cornflour and sugar and beat together with a wire whisk to break down any lumps. Gradually stir in the warm cream.
3. Then place the bowl over the simmering water and stirring continuously, cook until the mixture thickens slightly (it takes about 10 minutes)
4. Then remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla essence. Pour the mixture into 4 ramekin dishes, until about 3/4 full. Then put the ramekins in a large roasting tin and fill the roasting tin with water until the water comes half way up the outside of the ramekins (a bain-marie) and place in the oven and bake for about 30-40minutes until the custards are set but still have a good wobble.
5. Then remove the ramekins from the water (it can be tricky, I used oven gloves and quickly moved them onto a cooling rack) and cool. Then keep them in the fridge until you're ready to serve. I'm leaving mine overnight. 
6. 1-2 hours before serving, sprinkle the surface of each custard with the caster sugar and either caramelise with a chef's blowtorch (make sure it has a really concentrated hot flame) or place under a very hot grill for a few minutes. Then refrigerate again for 1-2 hours and serve!


  1. When i cook Crème brûlée, i usually sprinkle with the sugar once, then i burn it with a chef's blowtorch, then i add sugar and then i burn it once again. It makes it more crunchy ;-) But i do not refrigate again after that because i think that it's delicious when the top is a bit warm and the custar still cold :-)

  2. Ooh that sounds like a good idea :) how quickly does your sugar usually set? Mine seemed to take forever!
    Thanks for reading, Rebecca x

  3. Well... I don't know. It doesn't seem to take a long time... But I don't use caster sugar. I think soft light brown or dark brown sugar is better (for the taste).
    I think it takes ... less than 5minutes for the whole burning thing (the 2 steps). And then, i wait 1 minute, to let to the sugar the time to become crunchy :-)

    I hope it helps ! (and i hope you understand. English isn't my mothertale so...).

  4. That's very helpful! Thank you, I'll keep it in mind for next time :) x