I used to be intimidated at the thought of making something as fancy as Creme Brulee, but my friend Honoree convinced me it was easy and something I just had to do. That was 7 years ago. She even bought me a set of ramekins for my birthday that year to push me onto the ”Creme Brulee is Life” train.
So, at that point all I needed was a torch. My husband gave me one, similar to this one, for my birthday that same year. (FYI you have to order the butane gas separately). Now here is the crazy part. I put off making it because the one recipe I had looked at said I needed raw coarse sugar for the top. I didn’t have any of that and 7 years ago we were on a real tight budget so I just didn’t buy any of their fancy sugar.
My torch sat up on the top shelf of the cupboard where things go to be forgotten about. It was truly forgotten for a good 4 years or so. The ramekins on the other hand were used for all kinds of things. I love using them for these individual fruit crisp desserts and I always used/use them to put things like diced onion, and jalapeno in when we have tacos. They have also been used in many of the photos you see here on Real Life Dinner.
Even though they haven’t been used as often for Creme Brulee as I thought they would, every time I use them I think of my sweet friend who now lives on the other side of the country, and everything I make in them tastes like love! Such a sweet gift from one foodie to another!
Fast forward a few more years and I read a few more Creme Brulee recipes. Some of which said you can use regular sugar or even brown sugar. (I tried brown sugar once, and I felt like it gave it a too strong slightly burnt flavor. But it did work really well as far as giving it a nice crunchy topping….you should experiment and see what type of sugar you like better). Anywho, once I knew it was okay to use regular sugar I was all over it!
Creme Brulee is actually one of the simplest desserts, EVER, to make. A lot of people get intimidated because it tastes so fancy you think it must be a nightmare to make. Not at all!
The step of baking them in a water bath also turns a lot of people away. I gotta admit, that step sounded super intimidating to me the first time I was reading through recipes. It’s not though, really, I promise. All it is, is pouring water into the pan after you place the ramekins in it. The trickiest thing about it is making sure you don’t spill the water as you are putting it in the oven.
Heck, if you wanted to, you could add the water after you place the dish on the oven rack. It needs to be filled half way up with water (see the picture above), but if you over filled it, it isn’t going to hurt the results it’s just going to make it harder to get the pan out of the oven without spilling it. So just be careful not to over fill, and you will be fine.
Also, Creme Brulee is meant to be made with a real vanilla bean. If you’ve had it at a restaurant it was most likely made with a real vanilla bean. I don’t have real vanilla beans. It’s something I’m working up to, I just have a hard time paying six bucks for one vanilla bean, but I’m working up to it and hoping to make the plunge in the near future. I’m kind of scared I’ll like them so much I’ll never go back and I’ll start blowing half my grocery budget on vanilla beans…..
As for now I use my good ol’ favorite Watkins Clear Vanilla. I order it on amazon and it lasts forever.
One more word about the sugar for the topping before we get to the recipe. Most recipes suggest using one or two teaspoons sprinkled on each ramekin. Some say to use as much as a tablespoon. That seems a little crazy but may be more realistic on the ramekins that are shaped like this. I actually only used half a teaspoon of sugar this time because I don’t like the crust to be super thick. Experiment and see what you like best.
Remember when you are torching them, to keep the torching nice and even so the flame doesn’t focus to long in one spot. Also, add the sugar and torch it when the brulee’s are at room temp. I pulled them out of the fridge and quickly torched them before this photo shoot. It left the topping a little grainy because the custard under the sugar was still cold and interfered with the torching. It was still really good, but didn’t get as crisp/crunchy as it normally does. So if you have refrigerated them, try to let them sit out for 30 minutes before caramelizing the sugar with the torch.
Okay, I think I’ve covered everything! Hopefully you are feeling pumped and ready to make some easy creme brulee. It is soooo good!
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ⅓ cup sugar for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set out a 9x13 glass baking dish and place 6 5-8 ounce ramekins in the baking dish.
- In a small saucepan heat the cream until just scalded (little tiny bubbles will appear on the side. Remove from heat.
- While milk is heating whisk together, egg yolks, sugar and pinch of salt.
- Pour ½ cup of scalded milk into egg mixture and quickly whisk, this will temper the mixture so you can add it to the rest of the cream.
- Slowly pour and whisk the tempered egg mixture into the rest of the cream. Make sure your pan is off the heat.
- Add the vanilla and pour mixture evenly into the ramekins. Once ramekins are filled. Pour water into the 9x13 glass baking dish until it is halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Carefully place 9x13 pan with water and ramekins into the 350 degree oven and bake for 25-50 minutes. Time will depend on ramekins and how deep your creme brulee is. The creme brulee in these pictures took about 33-35 minutes.You will know they are done when the center is set. I usually just use my finger to gently check one.
- Carefully remove from oven and set the ramekins onto a cooling rack or cool surface.
- Allow creme brulee to come to room temperature before storing in the fridge.
- Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to three days. Before serving let creme brulee set out for 30 minutes to come to room temperature and then sprinkle with 1-2 tsp sugar and use a torch to caramelize the sugar into a nice crust. If you do not have a torch you can do this step carefully with the broiler feature on your oven.
- You can return the creme brulee to the fridge fro 30-60 minutes after caramelizing the topping to get it nice and cold again if you want. I like it nice and cold but some people prefer it at room temp. Enjoy!